Protesting the protest law

Activists who protested in Rangoon yesterday calling for the abolishment of the controversial article-18 of the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law have been charged under the article for protesting without approval from the authorities.

Under article-18 of the law, demonstrators have to apply for permission before they stage a protest.

On Tuesday, around 40 activists as well as those already slammed with charges under the article for participating in various protests in the past, marched from Myaynigone junction to the Sule Pagoda in downtown Rangoon.

Sithu Win, one of the protestors said some organisers and participants in the protest have been charged by police forces from different townships. They were charged under the very article they were protesting against.

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He went on to say that if protestors are being charged for practicing their constitutional right, then it would call into question the constitution’s validity.

“Apparently practicing our constitutional right is liable for a charge under article-18, which means the article is overstepping the constitution,” said Sithu Win.

Article-18 of the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession was enacted during President Thein Sein’s rule and has been widely used to prosecute activists protesting against human rights violations, land grabs, and labour rights.

There are currently over 130 activist across the country facing charges under the article.

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