Citizens in Myanmar are allowed to engage in peaceful protests but a controversial law limits that freedom.

INDONESIA

Senin, 20 Okt 2014 15:30 WIB

Author

Helen Regan DVB

Burma, law, freedom, DVB

In December 2011, President Thein Sein, approved legislation that allows Myanmar citizens to engage in peaceful protests.

But the controversial law comes with certain conditions.

Section 18 of the Peaceful Assembly Act states that demonstrators are required to obtain permission for protests or risk imprisonment.

Phone Myint Aung, MP, Upper House defends the law.

“If we don’t have laws then we will be living like we were under military rule. I don't think this law is biased. And we have to follow the laws if the law exists.”

But activist Robert Sann Aung says police are using the law to silence opposition.

“A group of journalists just taped their mouths and sat down. But according to this law, they were charged under Section 18. Which section of this law is directly linked with their actions? Please show me. The police don't understand the concept of human rights and their superiors are from the military.”

This is some police Major Myint Htwe rejects. 

“The police are human beings too and they do understand human rights.The Ministry of Home Affairs was formed by the President under the constitution and the police force and some other departments are controlled by this ministry.”

U Marky from the 88 generation peace and open society says the law is the way the government keeps control over its citizens during this reform period.

“Under this law it seems we get permission to protest in some places and not in others.  This decision is being made by just one person, the police chief in charge of each township.”

But MP Phone Myint Aung defends the law saying that the anyone charged with breaking the protest law will get a fair trial in the courts.

“This is nothing to do with the president or the parliament or me. If the judge thinks someone is innocent of a crime he’ll let them go.”

But Burma’s legal system is widely seen as corrupt and fair from being free or fair.

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