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Burma: Peaceful Protest Law

(Dec. 30, 2011)

On December 2, 2011, the President of Burma (Myanmar), Thein Sein, formally approved legislation that allows citizens of Burma to engage in peaceful protests, subject to certain conditions. Under the new law, demonstrators are required to inform authorities in advance of the time, place, and reason for the protest. They must also indicate the planned route of the protest and what will be talked or chanted about. The law prohibits protesters from blocking traffic or causing other types of disturbances during the gathering. (Ashley Hileman, Myanmar President Approves Peaceful Protest Bill, PAPER CHASE NEWSBURST (Dec. 4, 2011); Myanmar President 'Signs Protest Bill,' AFP (Dec 3, 2011).)

Those who protest without permission will be subject to one year of imprisonment. Anyone who disrupts a peaceful rally will face a punishment of two years in prison. (AFP, supra.)

In the past, protests have been banned in Myanmar by various orders and laws, such as Martial Law Order 2/88 (1988). Section 2 of the Order imposed a night curfew, and stated, “[g]athering, walking, marching in processions, chanting slogans, delivering speeches, agitation and creating disturbances on the streets by a group of 5 or more people is banned regardless of whether the act is with the intention of creating disturbance or of committing a crime or not.” The Order reportedly targeted journalists and writers in particular; it is not clear when it ceased to have effect, however. (Khin Ma Ma Myo, Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association, BURMA DIGEST (Aug. 16, 2006); SLORC Order 2/88 of 18 September 1988, Online Burma/Myanmar Library.)