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CSOs to contest Peaceful Assembly amendments

Protesters march in opposition to proposed amendments to Burma's Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law, Yangon, 5 March 2018. (Photo: Ye Mon/ DVB)

Several Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) are preparing to object to contentious legislation to amend Burma’s Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law that was passed earlier this week in the Upper House of Parliament, and is next scheduled to be discussed in the Lower House.

Speaking to DVB this morning, former MP Nyo Nyo Thin, one of the members of the CSOs’ lead committee, said, “The bill [to amend the Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law] will next be discussed in the Lower House, so it is imperative that our voices are heard. We do not want this bill passed.”

The approved legislation stipulates that records are kept of any individual or organisation who provides funding to hold a rally.

Nyo Nyo Tin is among the critics who say that the proposed amendments could further curb the ability of citizens to gather in public.

The draft bill adds: “If there is evidence that a person is giving money, material goods or other types of favours [to attendees] to join the assembly, with the intention of disrupting security, rule of law, tranquillity or public morality … then he or she may receive a maximum sentence of three years imprisonment and a fine.”

However, the Upper House approved the bill with a reduced maximum sentence of two years.

“The bill is not in line with either legal or democratic standards, nor with the stance of the [ruling National League for Democracy],” said Nyo Nyo Thin.

Among those sentenced in Burma under the controversial Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law were four students from Mandalay who held an education protest outside a government office in April. They were each sentenced to three months in prison plus an additional month for contempt of court after they chanted political songs during their trial.