Muslim candidates fail to win any seat in Myanmar


New Delhi: Final figures from Myanmar polls reveal that not a single Muslim candidate was elected in the country’s first democratic election. All the current Muslim representatives lost and new candidates were not elected.

Reportedly, Muslims were a target of hatred in the lead up to the polls.

Even the Union Election Commission of Myanmar barred several Muslim candidates questioning their citizenship. The extremist pro-Buddhist faction in the country has always alleged that the Muslims were citizens of neighbouring Bangladesh.

“Of the 6,074 approved candidates, 5,130 are Buddhist, 903 Christian and just 28, or 0.5%, are Muslim, a sliver of the percentage of Muslims in the general population,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

“This is only partly due to discriminatory decisions by the [commission]. The main parties have also shown extreme bias to stave off criticism from the racist and Buddhist nationalist Ma Ba Tha,” she added.

The ruling Union Solidarity and Development party fielded no Muslim candidates. Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) also relented under pressure from Ma Ba Tha and barred Muslims from contesting in the polls.

Rights violation has always been a blot for Myanmar. With the Rohingyas getting cornered in the western Rakhine state and atrocities against them escalating, they would hope for better days under Suu Kyi.

However, Kyi urged media not to exaggerate the situation. The dynamic leader has pledged to ensure rights for the Rohingyas though ‘Muslim rights’ was not in her priority list during her poll campaign.

Meanwhile, international election watchdogs from the European Union said the election was “well-run” but expressed unease over the disenfranchisement of Muslims. But they expressed hope that the new government will address the issue of religious extremism.

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