Win Tin, a leading member of Burma's main opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), likened the country's ruling regime to “a political rapist” intent on destroying the party that has led the pro-democracy movement for the past two decades.
“They want to strip us of our 1990 election victory so that we are like a 20-year-old girl, naked and exposed. We cannot allow ourselves to be raped,” he said in an interview with The Irrawaddy, explaining why the party chose not to contest this year's election.
The outspoken critic of the junta said that the NLD wanted the regime to re-open a dialogue with detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi and review the Constitution. But he added that the chances of this happening were very slim.
He also admitted that he and several other NLD leaders were naive to believe that the regime would introduce election laws that were flexible enough to allow the party to participate in the new polls.
“The election laws made it very clear that the regime doesn’t want Daw Aung San Suu Kyi or the NLD to have any part in the election,” he said.
The NLD decided last Monday that it would not participate in the election because it was required under a new party registration law to expel Suu Kyi and other members serving prison sentences. The party now faces dissolution for refusing to register for the election.
Win Tin said that the NLD leaders will ponder their next move at a meeting next Monday. He also stressed that the party is counting on the international community to send a strong message to the regime that its handling of the election is unacceptable.
“We know that they have limited power [to influence Burma’s political situation], but we want them to react and show that they know what’s really happening here,” he said.
The US and the UN expressed regret last week that the NLD was forced to make a decision that now jeopardizes the party's continued existence, but blamed the move on the Burmese regime's draconian election laws.
Meanwhile, Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said earlier this week that “[the NLD] have every freedom to decide on their own affairs. So I honor and I respect [their] decision.”
On Wednesday, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa visited Burma and told his Burmese counterpart in Naypyidaw that Jakarta expected the regime to “uphold its commitment to have an election that allows all parties to take part.”
Win Tin said that NLD leaders wanted to see more reaction from the region and beyond. “We want China, India and the European nations to speak up,” he said.