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Myanmar activists to hold rally over protest law

31 December 2013 23:43

343002_Myanmar-Yangon-Aung Soe

Political activists in Myanmar plan a rally on January 5 against a law that restricts freedom of assembly and the right to protest.

The controversial law declares that all demonstrations should be authorized by the government, illegalizing rallies that do not have government’s permission. The law also allows the judiciary to imprison the organizers of “illegal” demos.

“We don’t want to hit the streets again, but we must because the government [has] used this law to detain and charge activists who didn’t ask for permission from officials,” said Ko Ko Gyi, a leader of the 88 Generation Students, the most distinguished pro-democracy group in Myanmar.

More than 60 civil and political groups have announced they will participate in the January 5 rally in two large cities of Yangon and Mandalay.

According to human rights groups, 256 activists were detained and prosecuted this year for organizing demonstrations without permission.

Protesters urge Preident Thein Sein not to renege on his reformist pledges and release all political prisoners.

Myanmar’s government has recently announced a sweeping amnesty and has vowed to free all prisoners of conscience by the end of 2013.

“I would like to say that the president has fulfilled his promise given to the people, because there will be no political prisoners at all at the end of 2013,” said presidential spokesman Ye Htut in a post on his Facebook page. However, he did not provide further details of the release of detained activists.

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