Tens of Thousands of People in Karenni State Set to be Excluded From 2020 Election

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People in Burma who do not have government-issued national identification cards are likely going to be unable to vote in the country’s 2020 general election, according to civil society representatives in Karenni State.

Kyaw Htin Aung, the board chairperson of LAIN Technical Support Group, said that many of these affected individuals are survivors of war and were previously displaced, causing them to lose identity documents.

“People lost their national ID cards when they fled their villages and homes in the civil war between 1994 and 1996. They have lost their family registration documents,” Kyaw Htin Aung told Kantarawaddy Times, referring to what is known as Form 10. “Some people still haven’t gotten their national ID cards or family registration documents,” he added.

According to the 2014 national census, more than 19,000 people in Karenni State did not have national ID cards. Because of this, they were unable to vote in Burma’s 2015 election.

“We don’t want these people to lose their voting rights again in the coming 2020 general elections,” Kyaw Htin Aung said.

He added that there has been no news on government plans to issue national IDs to those who need them. These families live in remote areas of the state, and their villages are often not listed in government records.

Khu Bee Htoo, chair of the Kayan National Party, said that the party would try to help them regain their right to vote.

“We will help people whose names are not stated on the voter list. We are trying to make the list. We are also trying to visit these people,” he told Kantarawaddy Times. “We won’t accept the loss of voting rights of people who don’t have ID cards. We will also discuss this issue with officials.”

There were more than 33,000 people who turned 18 in time for the 2015 election, but 4,200 of them did not have national ID, according to the census, and therefore could not vote.

The Ministry of Labor, Immigration and Population still has not released information about the official population of Karenni State. The Union Election Commission also has not released the voter list.

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