Myanmar criticized for protest laws

Jan. 14, 2013 at 11:39 AM

BANGKOK, Jan. 14 (UPI) -- The government in Myanmar should amend its laws on public demonstrations to conform with international norms, Human Rights Watch said.

The rights organization complained when the government in Myanmar, known formerly as Burma, filed charges against nine activists for protesting in September without a government permit.

Phil Robertson, director of Asia programs at Human Rights Watch, said the government needs a "mental reset" in order to re-assess its stance on democracy given recent political reforms.

Myanmar began its evolution from a military-controlled government to a democratic state with general elections in 2010. The government, however, has been criticized for its response to rebellions in the country and for its human rights legacy.

Robertson, in a statement from Bangkok, said the government should amend laws on the books from 2011 so that charges stemming from demonstrations no longer carry a prison term for permit violations.

"The Burmese government evidently needs a mental reset to recognize that peaceful protests make for a vibrant democracy," he said. "Burma should have laws that encourage peaceful assembly and authorities who understand and respect it."

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