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Police to charge leaders of peace walk in Yangon

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By Myanmar Times / 16 May 2016

-Students who defied police orders and held an interfaith peace walk in downtown Yangon on May 14 will be charged under the Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law, according to police.

The group of students from the Yangon School of Political Science had applied for permission for a march from Yangon’s Tarmwe township to Mahabandoola Park in the city’s downtown area. The authorities only granted permission for a gathering in the Bo Sein Mann grounds in Tarmwe, however.

“We will bring legal action against them because they refused to hold the walk where we told them to. They chose their own way even though they were aware it wasn’t authorised. Each township [they passed through]will pursue legal actions,” Mingalar Taung Nyunt officer Police Lieutenant Major Than Oo said.

Sticking to their initial plan, about 70 people walked through Yangon from about 3pm carrying placards saying “Accept Diversity, Promote Tolerance” and “We All are Human”. Upon passing various religious buildings in the city, the marchers stopped and prayed in silence.

Kyauktada township officer Police Lieutenant Major Win Tin said police are working on the case. “We are investigating and checking who the leaders are and some activists involved in the march. They will be charged,” he said.

The organisers of a rally held by nationalists on April 28 in Yangon are also being prosecuted under section 19 of the Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law. The Myanmar Nationalist Network had received permission for a demonstration at the Bo Sein Mann Ground in Tarmwe township but, instead, marched from Yangon University up to the US embassy gates.

The NLD has proposed amending the Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law by adding a statute of limitations of 15 days and restricting the number of townships that can file a suit for the same protest. The new version also strikes the requirement of obtaining a permit. Instead, would-be protesters must inform the relevant township authorities 48 hours in advance. While the proposed bill would reduce prison sentences, violators of the law could still face up to one year in prison.

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