Marching Villagers Call for Burma Minister to Be Sacked Over Comments

Myanmar, Burma, protest, Ohn Myint, slap, Magwe, Magway,

Minister of Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development Ohn Myint, whose recent comments in Magwe Division have sparked protests. (Photo: JPaing / The Irrawaddy)

More than 1,000 villagers in Magwe Division demonstrated on Monday calling for the dismissal of a government minister caught on tape making offensive remarks.

One protest leader was charged in Aung Lan Township on Tuesday under the controversial Article 18 of the Peaceful Assembly Law, since the authorities did not give permission for the protest to go ahead, making it illegal under the law.

Aung Lan residents marched along the town’s main street, reportedly shouting slogans—including “We don’t want the union minister who would slap the public”—and demanding that action is taken against Minister of Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development Ohn Myint.

Remarks made by Ohn Myint, a former military general, to locals in Magwe town’s Thityakauk village last month have caused widespread outrage. A video posted online shows him ranting and people demanding clean drinking water on Jan. 28. In the video, the minister declares that he would not hesitate to “slap” anyone who opposes government policies.

“I can go around and slap everyone’s faces… If anyone insults or opposes the government, [I will] hit them and lock them up,” the minister was recorded saying.

Protest leader Myat Ko told The Irrawaddy that he was called to the township police station on Tuesday morning, and will have to appear before a court for holding the protest without permission.

“The head of township police U Htay Maung told me that I am charged with Article 18 [of Peaceful Assembly Law] and I am now on bail,” he said.

Scores of activists across Burma have been jailed under Article 18 in recent years, but President Thein Sein issued an amnesty on Dec. 31 freeing all those jailed for the charge and dropping all standing charges under the article. The article is still in the law, however, and Parliament is yet to discuss amending it.

The cabinet minister’ remarks were widely criticized in the Burmese media, and led to a small protest in downtown Rangoon on Feb. 3 calling for Ohn Myint’s dismissal. A lawmaker has also raised the incident in Parliament.

Myat Ko said that Aung Lan residents had asked for permission to demonstrate on Feb. 5, but police rejected the request on Feb. 7, saying that the protest would block the main street and market.

Myat Ko said the police’s reason for not permitting for protest was “unacceptable because we were protesting peacefully and without causing any trouble.”

Aye Myint, a leader of the National League for Democracy in Aung Lan, said the protesters were only exercising their rights by demonstrating.

“We expected that we would not get the permission and the township police chief responded that the protest would not be allowed, but we continued with our plan as it is our constitutional right to gather and demonstrate our desire in accordance with Article 354 of the 2008 Constitution,” he said.

Article 354 states that “every citizen shall be at liberty in the exercise of the following rights – (b) to assembly peacefully without arms and holding procession – if not contrary to the laws, enacted for Union security, prevalence of law and order, community peace and tranquility of public order and morality.”

6 Responses to Marching Villagers Call for Burma Minister to Be Sacked Over Comments

  1. If the residents of Aung Lan are not given the right to express how they feel against the ranting minister, we the people can see clearly that Myanmar is still under dictatorship.

  2. If Mr. Ohn Myint regards himself as a true General and a good public servant, he can prove so by resigning immediately and unconditionally after making sincere and heart-felt apology to the public over his rude comments.

    Myanmar people will be better off without Mr. Ohn Myint.

  3. In this IT age, everything we do or say are recorded. Ohn Myint did not know that he had no right to bully the poor farmers and villagers as he used to do in the past. He puts himself on fire and no one other than himself is to blame. His action is so ugly, and he makes the Thein Sein administration look even uglier. If he is not fired, USDP will be known as relic of military dictatorship.

  4. Ko Ohn Myint,
    Brotherly Advice from your Senior,

    Don’t wait to be sacked. Better quit!!! You can be the VERY FIRST ONE who can take RESPONSIBILITY of you stupid (heart) tongue!!!!

    Nyunt Shwe

  5. Maung Lu Aye ( Law ) R.A.S.U.1976

    As the German Proverb said “Where Might is Master , Justice is Servant “. It shows what Gen Ohn Myint ‘s Rudeness/Abusive/Impolite /Insulting/Uncivilized Words are Unacceptable. These kinds of Foul-Mouth/ Bad words using are Common in Burma’s Army, and Most of the Uneducated Generals & High Officials are Using . Magwe Division people have the Constitutional Rights to Demonstrate in Peaceful Means Calling for Ohn Myint’s Dismissal
    World War 2 in Burma, a lot of Burmese People were Slapped on the Cheek by Ruthless Japanese Army.Older People knew very well,and said Intruder Japanese were Ruthless & Uncivilized as well as Ohn Myint.

  6. Maung Lu Aye ( Law ) R.A.S.U 1976

    Eric Hoffer ( American Author & Philosopher ) quoted “Rudeness is the Weak man’s Imitation of Strength .

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