Hundreds rally against bill to amend protesting law

Kyi Naing + Pyae Phyo Naing
Hundreds of people in Yangon stage a protest against an amendment to the protesting law on March 5. (Photo-Pyae Phyo Aung)

Hundreds of activists staged a protest to cancel an amendment bill to the Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law in Yangon on March 5.

The demonstrators gathered at Thakhin Mya Park and started marching from there to Maha Bandoola Park about 1 pm on the same day.  Talks on the amendment bill for the protesting law took place at both parks.

A great number of people joined the protest in which Dr Nyo Nyo Thin, a former Yangon regional MP; Su Su Nway, a farmers’ rights activist; and Naw Ohn Hla and Zaw Yan, of civil society organisations (CSOs), took active part.

“Our reason for objecting to the protesting law is because of three amendments. Two out of three amendments contain words capable of oppressing the people by those in power. If the amendment law is approved by the parliament, those in power will be able to oppress and sue the people they don’t like know,” said Dr Nyo Nyo Thin, , a former Yangon regional MP.

“We are en route to being a democratic nation. We don’t want those in power to break democratic rights. We have to protest against the proposed bill to amend the protesting law as it is aimed at oppressing the people. We don’t want to be oppressed.”

The demonstrators marched from Thakhin Mya Park to Maha Bandoola Park, crossing Ahlon, Latha, Lanmadaw, Pabetan and Kyauktada Townships. The protest sought the permission from the respective township police stations.

“Some words in the amendments are like elastic; they can be reduced or enlarged. This amendment bill is a barrier to CSOs. The government really has to encourage the CSOs. The limitations on us are too many,” said Myat Thu Win, chairman of Shwe Min Thar Foundation.

“The NLD is our government and it is a civilian government. Personally, I feel tight and it is not OK with me. Some feel that it is some kind of oppression.”

“We protest against the amendment bill for protesting law because we want to fully enjoy the essence of democracy. It is directly violating democratic values,” democratic activist Naw Ohn Hla said.

Amendments to the 2011 Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law would make it easier to charge demonstrators with crimes and increase penalties for violations.

"Anyone who instigates, persuades others intentionally or knowingly to contradict national security, the rule of law, tranquility and public morale" can be punishable by up to three years in jail, the clause reads.

Translated by Win Htut