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    » 01/30/2013, 00.00

    MYANMAR

    Authorities lift decades-old ban on public gatherings



    Adopted in the late 1980s by the then ruling military junta to stop dissent, the ban only allowed gatherings of less than five people. Now the government wants to abolish all laws and regulations contrary to the constitution in order to protect freedom of expression. However, police charges people demonstrating for peace in Kachin state.

    Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Burma's 'reformist' government has lifted a ban on public gatherings of more than five people that was ordered in 1988 on the day a military junta took power after crushing nationwide pro-democracy protests. The 25-year ban allowed the military to crack down on pro-democracy groups and cancel the 1990 election won by the National League for Democracy (NLD).

    The state-run Myanma Ahlin newspaper reported today that Order No 2/88 was abolished as it was not in line with a section of the constitution whereby existing laws should remain valid as long as are not contrary to the constitution. The latter guarantees basic rights such as freedom of expression.

    Over the years, the order was used to crush opposition to the military regimes that held power until the semi-civilian government of President Thein Sein took office in 2011.

    His administration has instituted political and economic liberalisation, including lifting strict censorship, to breathe new life into the country.

    However, some issues remain unresolved, such as tensions with ethnic minorities (Kachin and Rohingya) and the military remains the real power behind the throne.

    In December 2011, a 'Peaceful Assembly Law' was implemented specifically to allow public protests. However, under the statute permission must be obtained in advance, without which organisers are subject to penalties, including prison terms.

    In fact, even though Myanmar authorities are now required to ensure greater freedoms, this has not stopped them from being violated.

    Recently, police charged five members of a group of peace marchers currently walking from Rangoon to Kachin capital Laiza. Although none of them has been arrested, each could be sentenced to a year in prison for each charge if they are brought before a court.

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    See also

    20/07/2009 MYANMAR
    Myanmar, Martyrs Day: an opportunity for the military junta for 50 more arrests
    Yesterday in Yangon the military junta detained Human Rights activists and members of the National League for Democracy. Since 1988 the festival dedicated to Aung San, the hero who led the country to independence, is grounds for a confrontation between the military dictatorship and opposition.

    13/12/2004 MYANMAR
    Regime using Buddhism for propaganda purposes, monks say
    Many delegations stay away from World Buddhist Summit in Yangon to protest against regime. At least 400 Buddhist monks are jailed sentenced to 15-20 years.

    28/01/2011 MYANMAR
    Supreme Court rejects appeal, NLD still illegal
    After a hearing lasting a few minutes, the ruling was read out. An attorney for the NLD plans to appeal to the chief justice, but doubts remain as to whether Aung San Suu Kyi’s party will be re-established. Burmese exiled political leader calls for an independent commission of inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity in his country.

    17/11/2004 MYANMAR
    World Buddhist Summit: appeals to boycott Myanmar's military regime
    Only 12 delegations have confirmed their presence at the summit. More than 300 Buddhist monks are in prison in Myanmar for "supporting democracy".

    12/11/2010 MYANMAR
    Burmese junta sign release order, Aung San Suu Kyi soon free
    The leader of the Burmese opposition should be released Friday afternoon. At 5 pm, a press conference is scheduled at the NLD headquarters where hundreds of supporters have already gathered. The authorities tighten security measures around Suu Kyi’s home. Indian Christian activists welcome the news with joy, call for democracy in the country.



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