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NDI

The National Democratic Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government.

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Dozens of Burma border-based organizations with feeds from human rights organizations and exile media launched a website to share citizen reports of widespread abuse and fraud around the first elections in Burma in 20 years. Burma Election Tracker (www.burmaelectiontracker.org) shows detailed reports, eye witness accounts, pictures and video gathered through established networks of civic organizations operating throughout Burma. The site also provides ongoing analysis and recommendations.

The group concluded that “The reports that we have gathered demonstrate that these elections are deeply flawed, and are fundamentally illegitimate, unfree, unfair and undemocratic.”

More than 300 reports have been posted on the site, varying from stories of voter intimidation to journalists being arrested and refugees streaming into neighboring Thailand due to election-related violence. The site will be updated continuously over the coming days as additional reports about election day and the post-election environment trickle out of the country.

Due to restrictions on communications and suppression of political activities it is very difficult to move this information out of Burma. These groups are using a variety of means to collect and transfer the information so it can be published on the site, including Internet and mobile communications as available, and physically carrying media cards containing pictures and video out of the country. Still, many reports never make it.

“Because of the extreme difficulty of collecting information in Burma, we recognize that these reports represent a small portion of similar violations, fraud and atrocities,” said Khin Ohmar, coordinator of  the Burma Partnership, a Burmese-led network of organizations in Asia advocating for and mobilizing a movement for democracy and human rights in Burma.

Burma Election Tracker provides an interactive map of several hundred reports that allow visitors to identify geographic trends of various types of human rights and electoral violations. Additional data sets will be added to the site over the coming days. The website is another step in the creation of approaches and tools that citizens can use to assess and improve political processes in repressive countries.

Burma Election Tracker is supported by a mostly volunteer team of about 50 Burmese citizens and the courageous work of hundreds of activists and rights defenders around the country. The site is designed and managed by the Burma Partnership.

NDI has provided ongoing technical support to the Burma Partnership and assisted with the development of the Burma Election Tracker. This work is part of the Institute’s broader effort to assist democracy and human rights activists in using the internet and mobile technology to document abuses and advocate for political reform. NDI has supported international advocacy for Burma since 1995.

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Pictured above: Burmese citizens protest the 2010 elections

 

Published on Nov. 8, 2010