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Association and Assembly

  • Laws, decrees, bills and regulations relating to association and assembly (commentaries)

    Individual Documents

    Title: BURMA: Police torture of gay and transgendered people
    Date of publication: 22 July 2013
    Description/subject: "The Asian Human Rights Commission has been following with concern news of the police targeting of gay and transgendered people in Burma, or Myanmar, and has recently obtained detailed information on a number of cases of alleged arbitrary arrest, detention and torture of persons on the grounds of sexual orientation. The AHRC is troubled both by the manner in which this minority group appears to have been deliberately targeted by the police, and by the implications of these police abuses not only for the rights of minorities in democratizing Burma, but also for the rights of all people living there. According to recent news reports, police in Mandalay have been conducting an operation against gay and transgendered people who have been congregating in certain public places in the city. Although the police claim that they are simply removing from certain areas anyone found to be causing a disturbance to the public, from all accounts it is clear that they have been specifically targeting gay and transgendered people..."
    Language: English
    Source/publisher: Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
    Format/size: html
    Date of entry/update: 22 July 2013

    Date of publication: 21 January 2013
    Description/subject: "This special dossier of 36 cases brought under the 1908 Unlawful Associations Act against people accused of contact with the Kachin Independence Army was researched and compiled in 2012 by independent human rights defenders in Burma who have requested that the Asian Human Rights Commission disseminate the material...At a time that the conflict in Kachin State between the Kachin Independence Army and Burma armed forces is only getting worse, this dossier marks an important contribution to documentation on human rights abuses in the region, because it signals very sharply the intersection between war and law, between violence in armed combat and violence in interrogation, in the use of torture and other techniques against persons who have been branded enemies of the state...the human rights defenders who gathered and translated this material have two stated objectives: to document and inform people about the use of the Unlawful Associations Act; and, to secure the release of the accused. Both of these objectives are laudable, and strongly supported by the AHRC. Clearly, not enough has been done to document cases of this sort in a way that makes explicit the connection between strategic practices of the military and those of other parts of the state apparatus for the targeting of internal enemies. We firmly hope that by taking these steps, not only will the connections be better understood but also those whose cases are documented will obtain relief through some publicity and attention to their specific plights..."
    Language: English
    Source/publisher: Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) & Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC)
    Format/size: pdf (2.7MB-OBL version; 3.46-original)
    Alternate URLs: http://www.humanrights.asia/countries/burma/reports/Unlawful_Association_Dossier.pdf/view
    Date of entry/update: 21 January 2013

    Title: Thein Sein Repeals Repressive Law on Public Speeches
    Date of publication: 16 January 2013
    Description/subject: "Burmese President Thein has repealed a draconian law that was used to stifle public speeches and sentence dissidents to lengthy spells in prison under the previous military regime, according to an announcement in a state-owned newspaper on Wednesday. The Burmese-language version of The New Light of Myanmar carried an announcement signed by President Thein Sein, which stated he had revoked Law 5/96, or the Law Protecting the Peaceful and Systematic Transfer of State Responsibility and the Successful Performance of the Functions of the National Convention against Disturbances and Oppositions. It provided for up to 20 years imprisonment for anyone who criticizes the government in speeches or written statements that “belittle the National Convention” and make people misunderstand its proceedings..."
    Language: English
    Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy"
    Format/size: html
    Date of entry/update: 19 January 2013

    Title: Myanmar: The Decree on the Right to Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession 2012 - Legal Analysis (English and Burmese)
    Date of publication: 20 September 2012
    Description/subject: Executive Summary and Recommendations: In July 2012, "ARTICLE 19 analysed the Decree on the Right to Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession of Myanmar, adopted by the Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar on 5 July 2012. The provisions of the Decree were examined for their compliance with international standards on human rights. Myanmar has neither signed nor ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights or other principal human rights treaties. Nevertheless, ARTICLE 19 suggests that guarantees to the right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, as provided by Article 364 of the Constitution of Myanmar, allow a wide scope for interpretation and that international standards regarding these rights should provide guidance to such an interpretation. In the analysis, ARTICLE 19 appreciates the Decree’s recognition of the state duty to protect assembly participants. However, the requirement for permission to hold an assembly, the grounds for denying permission, the lack of a court appeal and the absence of guarantees for media access to assemblies are problematic and must be urgently revised. ARTICLE 19 also calls on the Government of Myanmar – in consultation with civil society - to review other legislative measures in light of international standards and to make them compliant with these standards. Recommendations ARTICLE 19 calls on the Government of Myanmar: • To sign and ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; • To invite the UN special rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and association and the special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression to visit Myanmar; • To ensure that the right to peaceful assembly and the right to freedom of expression are safeguarded in line with international standards; • To revise the Decree on the Right to Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession in accordance with international standards on freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, as recommended by ARTICLE 19; • To initiate public discussion about the current legal framework on peaceful assemblies and engage in consultation with civil society representatives on how to improve the relevant legislation. ARTICLE 19 calls on civil society in Myanmar: • To engage in public debates and consultation with the government on how to improve the domestic legislation on peaceful assembly; • To form coalitions between civil society organisations and launch public education campaigns on the right to peaceful assembly and the right to freedom of expression; • To draft legislative proposals and advocate for specific changes in domestic legislation aiming at the improvement of the protection of the right to peaceful assembly and the right to freedom of expression; • To seek partnerships with international organisations in a specific mandate on the right to freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly."
    Language: English, Burmese/ ျမန္မာဘာသာ
    Source/publisher: Article 19
    Format/size: pdf (346K-English; 6.54MB-Burmese))
    Alternate URLs: http://www.article19.org/data/files/medialibrary/3440/12-09-19-LA-Myanmar-BU.pdf
    Date of entry/update: 24 September 2012

    Title: Burma: New Law on Demonstrations Falls Short
    Date of publication: 15 March 2012
    Description/subject: "...Legal Reforms Should Meet International Human Rights Standards ...Burma’s new law on assembly rejects the previous ban on demonstrations, but still allows the government to trump the Burmese people’s basic rights. There is a lot of excitement about changes in Burma these days, but the government shouldn’t be given credit for allowing some freedom just because none existed before. Instead, it should be pressed to make sure its laws meet international standards..."
    Language: English
    Source/publisher: Human Rights Watch (HRW)
    Format/size: html
    Date of entry/update: 17 March 2012

    Title: Reading between the lines of criminalized assembly in Myanmar
    Date of publication: 10 December 2011
    Description/subject: "All public assemblies that power holders have not themselves organized or endorsed pose them some kind of political challenge. In a democratic system, unauthorized public assemblies are part of the political process. The ruling group is obliged to accommodate such assemblies and not resort to needlessly coercive methods in dealing with them. The political symbolism of an authoritarian system, by contrast, carries with it, as James Scott has written, an implicit assumption that subordinates gather only when they are authorized to do so from above.1 Where subordinates defy this assumption, they threaten the political order, and risk juridical sanction. The British authoritarian regime in its Asian colonies assigned public assembly an inherently criminal quality. A full chapter of the Indian Penal Code, which it brought with it to Burma, sets out offences against public tranquillity and their punishments. The terms used in the code evoke the innate criminality of unauthorized gatherings: “criminal force”, “rioting”, “affray”. The colonial-era police and courts read between these lines so as to enable liberal use of violence. Police and magistrates responded to unauthorized assembly under cover of the empire’s criminal codes with lathi charges and rifle fire. When they failed to keep things under control, behind them came the army. And so, a template was set for what historian Mary Callahan has described as the “coercion-intensive” state in Burma.2 1 James C. Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts (New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 1990) 61. 2 Mary P. Callahan, "State Formation in the Shadow of the Raj: Violence, Warfare and Politics in Colonial Burma," Southeast Asian Studies 39.4 (2002): 521. 2 But the colonial template has, as the years have passed, become less and less familiar. Whereas the coercive parts of the criminal juridical apparatus in Burma, now officially Myanmar, have expanded in size and strength under successive military or military-established governments, the authority of the courts has greatly diminished. Whereas the criminal codes have remained in force, the manner of their application has changed markedly. And meanwhile, other ill-defined elements that were not part of the original template have also entered the mix. In this paper, I briefly explore the shifting character of the containment and criminalizing of unauthorized assembly in Myanmar through a case study of the juridical and extrajuridical response to large-scale protests in 2007. I argue that the criminalizing of unauthorized assembly and its participants was, compared to earlier periods, highly ambiguous, because the juridical and extrajuridical elements of the response were throughout purposefully intervowen. The ambiguity was, I think, paradigmatic of how power has in recent years been exercised through the criminal juridical system of Myanmar, such that today we can only talk of the juridical and extrajudicial in the singular, as a composite of practices rather than two contrasting sets of practices..."
    Author/creator: Nick Cheesman
    Language: English
    Source/publisher: “Southeast Asia: Between the Lines”, Center for Southeast Asian Studies, University of Michigan, 9-10 December 2011
    Format/size: pdf (616K)
    Date of entry/update: 18 August 2014