Burmese authorities have censored a key election campaign speech of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, removing portions related to the abuses of the previous military junta and the absence of the rule of law in the country.
She told RFA that the authorities had removed a paragraph from the text of her speech to be aired by state radio and television as part of her National League of Democracy (NLD) party broadcast ahead of April 1 by-elections.
In that paragraph, she had accused the military junta, which ruled Burma with an iron fist for decades, of not respecting the rule of law and of manipulating the law to punish the people.
“I had to submit my speech ahead of time and one paragraph was censored,” Aung San Suu Kyi said in an interview on Thursday.
“The part about how there wasn’t rule of law and the military government had repeatedly used the law to repress the people, that is censored,” she said.
All political parties were entitled to a campaign speech to be broadcast on state radio and television. It was to be recorded next week and broadcast at a later date before the by-elections in which Aung San Suu Kyi is contesting one of 48 seats.
It is believed that the NLD replaced the contentious paragraph.
The upcoming elections are being closely watched by foreign governments considering the prospect of gradually lifting sanctions as the nominally civilian government embraces political and other reforms following decades of harsh military rule.
Aung San Suu Kyi has been facing various election campaign restrictions despite assurances by the Burmese authorities that there would be no such hurdles in the run-up to the polls.
She had faced problems getting venues for her to hold campaign rallies and complained that official voter lists included dead people and open possibility for fraud.
Aung San Suu Kyi has asked the international community to watch closely how the elections proceed and how the official election commission deals with complaints of electoral irregularities before determining their policy toward Burma.
Her NLD had boycotted Burma’s general election in November 2010 but agreed to rejoin the electoral process after the new military-backed government began implementing a series of democratic reforms.
Even if the NLD wins all 48 seats, the current government will still have a commanding majority in parliament.
The NLD scored a landslide victory in 1990 elections but the military junta then did not allow the party to take office.
Burmese President Thein Sein assured this month that his government will build on the sweeping reforms it has begun over the last year, saying it is truly committed to democratic change.
The Thein Sein administration’s reforms – including freeing political prisoners, signing ceasefires, with armed rebel groups, easing restrictions on the press, and opening a dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi – have baffled even some of the nation’s fiercest critics.
Reported by RFA’s Burmese service. Translated by Khin May Zaw. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.