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Citizens of Burma that stage protests have a right to freedom of expression, but at the same time they must show courtesy and make an effort to avoid causing disturbances to the general public at their rally sites, security officials have warned.
On Tuesday, Col Tin Win of the Security and Border Affairs Ministry met with participants in a two-month-long sit-in in Rangoon’s Tamwe Township, where he urged them to respect the public’s right not to be disturbed by their activities.
“Protestors need to consider the public in the area of rally sites – having crowds of people chanting slogans every day in front of their houses; defecating and urinating in the street, activities which cause a great deal of disturbance,” colonel Tin Win said to the protestors’ representatives in the meeting.
“They must ensure that practicing their freedom of speech does not disturb the liberty of others.”
Police Brig-Gen Thura Bo Ni said showing a sense of discipline at the rallies is the best way for the protestors to best practice their freedom of expression.
“Nowadays, we can enjoy our freedom of speech and debate, and protest with official permission, as our country is gaining momentum on its track to democracy and conformity with international standards,” he said.
“If the citizens can adopt a custom of discipline when staging protests to highlight their problems, it would be in the best interests of our country’s development.”
The Tamwe protestors are demanding compensation for their forced eviction in 1994 to make way for the construction of navy barracks, which were never built. The land was subsequently acquired by Wah Wah Win, a private construction company, which is currently building a housing project on the now-vacant plot.
Following a pledge by the officials in the meeting to mediate negotiations with company for compensation, the protesters agreed to disband their camp and return to their homes in Dagon Seikkan township, a Rangoon satellite town that has absorbed thousands of evictees priced out of accommodation closer to the city centre.