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Myanmar continues to charge protestors with heavy penalties
Publication Date : 06-08-2013
Despite a growing call from Myanmar activists and civic organisations to abolish the Section 18 of the controversial Assembly and Procession Law, which prohibits protests without prior permission from authorities, more people continue to be dealt heavy penalties for exercising a constitutional right.
Htin Kyaw and Win Cho were protesting against the high prices of commodities and were charged with the Section 18. Similarly, students and local residents who protested against the controversial Letpadaungtaung copper mine were also charged with the Section 18 and given hefty sentences. Myint Aung was given a one year sentence for protesting.
The Myanmar Police Force announced there were 101 incidents of protest this year, but 95 times were not granted permission. Around 200 protesters are still facing up to one year sentences for protesting.
Advocates have argued that the Section 18 goes against the fundamental right to hold peaceful assembly enshrined in the 2008 Constitution.
Although permissions were asked for staging peaceful protests, most often the local authorities do not approve them.
Ten people from Maday Island protested against Shwe natural gas pipeline project in the last April, but they are still facing trial.
In addition to the Section 18, the Section 505 of Penal Code is also being used to charge demonstrators.
A workshop organised by the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society held on July 24 said that it would encourage the administrative bodies including the president to amend or abolish these sections and laws.
"The sections and the laws were already well organised rather than amendment. If disciplines are respected, it keeps the protesters secure. Regarding the Section 5, the township police officer was accused of being above the Constitution.
The parliament also already approved it. If it is up to the people desire, it will be discussed," said Tin Maung Win, Secretary of Citizens Privileges, Democracy and Human Rights Committee.