Tue January 29, 2013
Myanmar Lifts Ban On Public Gatherings
In another sign that Myanmar continues its march toward democracy, the state-run newspaper reported that the government has lifted a ban on public gatherings of more than five people.
The BBC reports that the law dates back to 1988, "when a military government took power after crushing pro-democracy protests."
The newspaper, the BBC reports, said the law was removed because it violated the constitution, which now guarantees freedom of expression.
"The order had been applied selectively as a tool to crush dissent against the military regimes that held sway until the elected government of President Thein Sein took office in 2011. His administration has instituted political liberalization, including the revocation of strict censorship.
"The order had declared "Gathering or marching in processions and delivering speeches on the streets by a group of 5 or more people are banned."
"The junta used many catchall or vaguely defined orders and laws as a means of suppressing dissent, and courts generally handed out stiff sentences, sending thousands of political prisoners into jails around the country. Most have been freed under amnesties promulgated by Thein Sein."
Myanmar, also known as Burma, has made stunning progress toward democracy. So much so that back in November, President Obama became the first sitting U.S. president in history to visit the country.