(No. 353 - November 5, 2010 - 9:30 a.m. ET) The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement concerning Burma’s elections on November 7, 2010:
“Canada is seriously concerned that the upcoming Burmese elections, scheduled for November 7, will be held under oppressive conditions. Canada has consistently expressed concerns about the lack of inclusiveness and transparency in Burma’s electoral process to date, examples of which include the promulgation of election laws that prevent legitimate democratic actors from participating, the ongoing detention of over 2,100 political prisoners, and the exclusion of international election observers and foreign journalists. Furthermore, we are disappointed by reports that several areas where ethnic minorities predominate will be barred from voting.
“On the eve of the election, we again call on the regime to immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, and to commit to a genuine dialogue with members of the democratic opposition and the various ethnic minority groups within Burma.
“The people of Burma deserve to have their voices heard without fear of intimidation or violence. While respecting each political party’s decisions on whether or not to participate in the elections, Canada welcomes the courage of those Burmese people who have attempted, despite severe restrictions, to stand as candidates for independent political parties.
“Canada has long-standing concerns about the human rights situation in Burma. We have imposed the toughest sanctions in the world against the Burmese regime to indicate our condemnation of the regime’s disregard for human rights and its repression of the country’s democratic elements. Canada will continue to engage with all stakeholders working toward a democratic Burma.
“Canada is a vigorous defender of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”
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