Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Ministry enacts protest by-laws

Demonstrators protest the poor electricity supply in Yangon on May 22. Kaung Htet / The Myanmar TimesDemonstrators protest the poor electricity supply in Yangon on May 22. Kaung Htet / The Myanmar Times

The Ministry of Home Affairs last week introduced by-laws that allow peaceful demonstrations and processions, seven months after the law was promulgated.

The long-awaited by-laws will enable protesters to apply for permission to conduct rallies peacefully and while the law is not without its critics it is considered an important step in Myanmar’s political development.

The by-laws were enacted on July 5, Police Colonel Win Kaung of Myanmar Police Force confirmed.

“Yes, It is true. We have these by-laws books printed and will be distributed soon,” he said.

Another police officer, U Khin Maung Myint, said that the Peaceful Protest Laws were distributed on July 9 to Pyidaunghsu Hluttaw representatives and would be sent to state and region hluttaw representatives soon.

Under the laws, anyone wishing to organise a peaceful rally must inform the township police chief at least five days in advance. The township police chief then forwards it to the head of the township general administrative office with his comments on whether the application should be approved.

The township police chief is required to consult with the township general administrative office head when drafting the rules for the proposed protest before submitting them to the state or region police chief through the district police chief.

“We can reject applications and give restrictions,” said U Aung Khin, director of the Nay Pyi Taw’s general administrative office and secretary of Nay Pyi Taw Council.

He said three applications had already been received in Nay Pyi Taw.

“One applicant applied to demonstrate in Myoma Market and we have not granted permission yet,” he said, adding that the by-laws were “in accordance with the current reform effort”.

“Peaceful assembly and peaceful procession [law] is a necessary symbol of this reform and public rallies must be allowed to take place.”