Burmese election has locals packing

There are strong fears among ethnic groups in particular that the junta’s exercise in participatory democracy is nothing but a sham, Luke Hunt reports for Spectrum in Bangkok.

Hardest hit is the country’s Muslim population, and Temme Lee, refugee co-ordinator at the Malaysian human rights organisation Suaram, said Kachin, Karen and Chin had also joined the cross-border march.

“There have also been reports of people heading across the border and into China,” she told Spectrum. “There is a lot of pressure on the communities.”

Among those who fled Burma is Hamid bin Hatin, a 17-year-old Burmese Muslim. Bin Hatin was being press-ganged into the Burmese military, where he would be forced to perform menial labour and spend years away from his home and parents in Rakhine, on the country’s west coast.

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Luke Hunt is a foreign correspondent, author and occasional photographer who has covered much of Asia fr the last 30 years.

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