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Yangon to take action against 'illegal' political gatherings
Publication Date : 13-08-2013
Action will be taken if political gatherings are held without permission from the authorities in Bahan Township, Yangon where opposition political party of National League for Democracy is situated, according to officials from the Yangon regional government.
The move came over a week after the authorities warned an owner of Royal Rose Restaurant after holding a press conference on July 28.
"The directives dated on August 8 were sent to ward administrators from Bahan Township by Township General Administration Department," said Soe Nyunt owner of the Royal Rose Restaurant in Bahan Township.
The administrator of Bahan Township met with Soe Nyunt, the owner of the Royal Rose Restaurant, and gave him a verbal warning that official permission had to be asked from the township department 20 days ahead if the hall of the restaurant was to be rented for holding ceremonies on political affairs.
Soe Nyunt replied that he only rented his hall and that what was said during the meetings was not his business. Furthermore, the opposition groups see this as a way for the authorities to maintain indirect control on citizens freedom of association.
"Such act of the township administrator is aimed at indirectly controlling the freedom of society and political work procedures. Holding political ceremonies at restaurants like Royal Rose are related to encouraging the government’s political reform," said Win Tin, member of the National League for Democracy Party.
Officials from Yangon regional government however stated that such permissions were required so that the police can provide the mandatory security and help direct traffic.
"Permissions have to be asked for from the authorities if festivals and ceremonies are to be held. This is so we can fulfil the needs such as security and traffic police. Royal Rose did not usually submit the plan to the authorities to hold ceremonies so we warned the owner again," said an official from Yangon regional government who asked not to be named.
During the 25th anniversary of the 1988 pro-democracy uprising held at Myanmar Convention Centre from 6 August to 8, the Yangon regional government put pressure on the organisers to omit the word of “Uprising” from title "8888 Uprising Ceremony".
"An organisation hires a hall and then holds a ceremony. In this state, authorities can take action against those speaking ill of the government. It is something to do with the speaker and it is nothing to do with the owner of the building or the hall. The owner cannot know what they say. Whether right or wrong, it concerns only the speaker," said Ko Ni, an advocate from the Lawyers' Network.