Rights groups question ban on peaceful rallies
Civil society groups are questioning a directive issued by Yangon Region Security and Border Affairs Minister Colonel Aung Soe Moe banning peaceful assemblies and processions in 11 major townships.
LAWYERS, legislators and civil libertarians have questioned a directive issued on Tuesday by Yangon Region Security and Border Affairs Minister Colonel Aung Soe Moe banning peaceful assemblies and processions in 11 townships.
The order was issued in the aftermath of two interfaith ceremonies held in Kyauktada and Mingalar Taung Nyunt townships in October and early November that caused massive traffic jams in the area.
The 11 townships where peaceful assemblies and processions are prohibited are: Kyauktada, Pabedan, Latha, Lanmadaw, Botahtaung, Bahan, Sanchaung, Dagon, Ahlone, Mingalar Taung Nyunt and Pazundaung.
U Thein Than Oo, general secretary of the Myanmar Independent Lawyer’s Association, said the peaceful assembly law was enacted by the parliament, and local authorities have no authority to change it.
“The Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law was enacted by hluttaw,” he said. “Local authorities and even the Union government have no authority to amend the law enacted by hluttaw. Only hluttaw has power to do so.”
The directive signed by the regional Security and Border Affairs minister on behalf of the regional chief minister said if there are applications for peaceful assembly and peaceful procession to be held in the 11 townships, the township police force shall not grant permission as there is a possibility of public annoyance and anxiety.
The police were told to instruct the organisers to hold their activities to a public corner in Tarmwe township.
“Under the nature of the law, when it comes to receiving applications for procession, we have no right to reject them. But when it comes to applications for protest, the directive said we have to tell them to go to seek permission at a public corner that the government has officially recognized,” said Mingalar Taung Nyunt township police force chief Police Major Tin Win.
But U Thein Than Oo, who is also a high court lawyer, said the directive was also a breach of the constitution.
“For security concern, such ban can be imposed for temporarily, not permanently. Local order shall not be against parliament’s law. The law’s rules don’t stipulate restricted places for holding procession. It can’t change the rules on own decision,” he said.
Regional MP U Kyaw Kyaw Tun from Hlaing township said he understands that the regional government issued this directive as a local order and he has known that all directives are being granted after discussion in the regional government meeting.
“It shouldn’t be that citizen rights are being restricted by a local order even though Union law allows. But it can be used when it is necessary within time limit,” he said. “There needs to review whether the directive has exceeded its authority under the law. I assume that it is the regional government’s decision.” – Toe Wai Aung