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Four demonstrators are likely to face charges from Pakokku Township Police for staging an unauthorised protest demanding constitutional reform.
Pyone Cho, Nilar Thein and Mee Mee, all members of Burma’s 88 Generation Peace and Open Society (88GPOS), as well as local resident Than Naing, were detained for several hours on Wednesday after leading thousands of demonstrators to a meeting point where they then gave public speeches about Burma’s 2008 Constitution.
The organisers applied for an assembly permit on Tuesday, but authorities denied the request on the grounds that a large gathering might cause a traffic jam. An official with the local police force said that the obstruction could damage the stability of the town.
Speaking to DVB on Wednesday, Pakokku Police Sub-Inspector Htay Win said investigations are under way to determine whether or not the protest organisers should be charged under Burma’s controversial Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Processions Law.
“We are still investigating, then we will likely take action,” said Htay Win.
Nyan Lin, communications liaison for 88GPOS, said that upon asking if they would face charges the group was informed that they were currently under investigation.
“At this time,” he said, “they [the authorities] are indecisive about whether to file a lawsuit or not. They will decide based on advice from legal experts.”
A similar demonstration held in Magwe on Tuesday also left organiser Kyaw Thein facing charges for violating Article 18 of the assembly law.
The Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Processions Law, passed in 2011, requires permission from local authorities for any public gathering of five or more people.
Rights experts claim the law is being selectively enforced and may be creating new prisoners of conscience in Burma, which could have serious impacts on the country’s international relations. The legislation is currently undergoing parliamentary review after months of both domestic and international criticism.
Burma’s lower house of parliament recently approved legislation to amend the law, which would remove local authority to deny permission to protest. The amendments still await upper house approval.
Thura Aung Ko, chairman of the Judicial and Legal Affairs Committee, said authorities could be punished under the revised law if they deny permits without legitimate cause.