Army officer jailed for signing Article 436 petition

Army officer jailed for signing Article 436 petition

A Burmese army officer was jailed for two years after he signed a petition to amend Burma’s Constitution.

Maj. Kyawzwar Win was sentenced by a military court on 5 December after photos emerged of him signing a petition to amend Article 436.

The ruling is believed to be the first case of its kind within the three years Burma has undergone transition from military to civilian government.

Kyawzwar Win, an army engineer, was officially court-martialled for insubordination and breaking military rules.

“I was sentenced to jail because I signed the petition while the NLD [National League for Democracy] was collecting signatures for the constitutional amendment,” he said before being taken to prison, Radio Free Asia reported. “There is an order in the army to not get involved in amending Article 436.”

Article 436 is controversial among pro-democracy activists. The article states that constitutional amendments require approval of 75 percent of parliament, and as the military controls 25 percent of seats it effectively allows the military power to veto constitutional amendments in Burma.

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Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD and civil society movement 88 Generation Peace and Open Society ran a petition calling for amendments to the article from May to July, claiming around 5-million signatures in support. Both claim the petition represents Burmese people from all sectors of society.

Kyaw Thiha, an NLD MP from Mandalay Division, said the Kyawzwar Win was sentenced the same day military commander-in-chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing came to the Defence Services Academy graduation in the town.

“We heard from his wife that he [Kyawzwar Win] was sent to Obo prison – we are exploring options to help file an appeal for him,” Kyaw Thiha said.

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