The date for Burma's general elections this year has finally been announced as 8th November.
Unfortunately, it is impossible for any election to be free and fair under the current conditions in Burma. As Aung San Suu Kyi has stated, "There will be no fair elections with the current constitution."
Burma's 2008 Constitution was drafted by the military dictatorship and hands ultimate power to the military, as well as barring Aung San Suu Kyi from becoming President. The military are guaranteed 25% of seats in the Parliament and remain completely unaccountable, above both the President and the Parliament, and constitutionally able to veto anything the President or Parliament does.
The National League for Democracy and other pro-democracy groups have been campaigning for constitutional change, which has led to a recent vote in Parliament on 25th June. However, proposed changes to the undemocratic constitution were rejected as the military MPs voted against change.
Political prisoner Naw Ohn Hla has just been sentenced to an extra six months in jail with hard labour. This has been added to her existing prison sentence and she is now serving 4 years and 10 months in prison with hard labour in Insein Prison in Rangoon.
Naw Ohn Hla is a a leading member of the Democracy and Peace Women Network (DPWN), which campaigns for women's rights, equality and democracy in Burma.
She has been given the extra sentence for leading a peaceful prayer service at the Shwedagon Pagoda eight years ago to protest against Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest.
This is yet more evidence that the military-backed government in Burma is not serious about democratic reform.
On Tuesday this week, Burma's Parliament passed the Buddhist Women's Special Marriage Act, popularly called the Interfaith Marriage Bill.
The law will require Buddhist women to seek permission from local authorities before marrying a man from another religion. It is one of four discriminatory laws, advocated by Buddhist nationalist groups, collectively known as the Protection of Race and Religion Laws.
Forcing adult women to seek permission when they wish to marry a non-Buddhist violates their human right to freely marry. The bill also violates Burma's human rights obligation to provide women and men equal rights before the law, and discriminates against religious minorities.
The Interfaith Marriage Bill has passed in the context of increasing anti-Muslim discrimination in Burma, including organised and systematic violent attacks against the Muslim Rohingya minority.