Parliament guarantees right to protest in Myanmar

AP News
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Posted: Nov 24, 2011 12:09 PM
Parliament guarantees right to protest in Myanmar

Myanmar's Parliament approved a law guaranteeing the right to protest, one of a series of reforms under the new elected government.

The law is significant because the right to protest had not previously existed in Myanmar, Thein Nyunt of the opposition New National Democracy Party said Thursday.

President Thein Sein has pushed forward reforms after Myanmar experienced decades of repression under military regimes. The government that took office in March is still dominated by a military-proxy political party, but changes have been made in areas such as media, Internet and political participation.

The protest law says would-be participants must seek permission five days before the event and provide details about slogans and speakers. Protests are prohibited at factories, hospitals and government offices. Staging a protest without permission carries a penalty of one year in prison.

The reforms have been greated with cautious warmth internationally.

Germany's deputy foreign minister, Werner Hoyer, said the protest law was encouraging and the test would be whether Myanmar continues with its course of reform.

"Along with the release of all political prisoners, that also involves a credible concept to involve national minorities in the political and social processes," Hoyer said in a statement.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton plans to visit Myanmar next month to encourage its reforms and engage with the new government. It is the first U.S. secretary of state visit in more than a half-century.