Suu Kyi Wraps Back-to-Back Rallies Urging Pre-2015 Charter Change

Aung San Suu Kyi addresses a crowd of supporters in Mandalay on Sunday. (Photo: Teza Hlaing / The Irrawaddy)

MANDALAY — National League for Democracy (NLD) chairwoman Aung San Suu Kyi challenged Burma’s government—still dominated by current or former military officials—to amend the country’s controversial Constitution by year’s end, at a rally that drew more than 20,000 people in Mandalay on Sunday.

“I want to challenge them [military officials] to amend the Constitution within this year, from within the boundaries of the law and via the Parliament. If they truly love the country, respect the citizens: Think of the future of the country and be brave enough,” Suu Kyi said before supporters gathered at an athletics field on Sunday morning.

Suu Kyi also reminded the crowd that her father, Gen. Aung San, founded the army more than 70 years ago as an institution charged with protecting the country and its people.

“The army exists not to govern the country but to protect it. It is unpleasant to hold onto something that doesn’t belong to you,” she said, referring to military representatives’ guaranteed 25 percent of seats in Parliament. “I have to question why they want to do this, as it is to the detriment of your dignity and the country suffers [as a result].

“I want to urge them to show their ability to the world—that they have no intention of holding to power, and show how much they can sacrifice for the sake of the country,” she added.

Repeating a line that she put forward a day earlier in Rangoon, the opposition leader said the first priority for reform of the charter was Section 436. The section is key to further constitutional amendments, requiring more than 75 percent of Parliament to support proposed amendments and giving the military an effective veto over changes.

Suu Kyi and her NLD are also pushing for changes to Article 59(f), which bars her from running for president in an election slated for 2015 because she married a foreign national and has two foreign passport-holding children.

Suu Kyi on Sunday encouraged her supporters to write letters to Commander-in-Chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing and other military officials, urging them to cooperate in building a better future for the country.

Sunday’s public meeting was organized in collaboration with the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society, a prominent civil society group comprised of leaders of Burma’s 1988 pro-democracy student uprising. An estimated 25,000 supporters from Mandalay and surrounding cities including Pyin Oo Lwin, Nyaung Oo, Pakokku and Mogoke, as well as some who traveled from as far away as Kachin, Karenni and Chin states, came out to show their support.

Streets in Mandalay were clogged with vehicles carrying people with the NLD’s red-and-yellow flags, while the speaking venue, Aung Pin Lae sports grounds, was the scene of activity from 3am to welcome Suu Kyi’s second visit to the town since 2012.

Speaking before the crowd in Mandalay, Burma’s second largest city, the prominent 88 Generation leader Min Ko Naing encouraged all citizens to participate in an upcoming nationwide signature campaign in support of constitutional change.

“The people are like the sky, which is always there for us, and the government or the men in power are like the clouds, which visit the sky temporarily. We need people power to create a better future for the country,” Min Ko Naing said.

The former student leader said the 2008 Constitution, which passed in a referendum held shortly after Cyclone Nargis devastated the country’s Irrawaddy Delta, needed amending if the country was to exist as a genuine, federal democracy.

Min Ko Naing also addressed a warning made recently by President Thein Sein, who visited the town just three days ahead of Sunday’s gathering and claimed the push for constitutional change risked sparking unrest.

“We have the freedom to educate the people on what is going on with the politics of the country,” Min Ko Naing said. “We are peacefully working within the bounds of the law. Warning that there will be unrest is just in fear of losing face for what they have done in the past.”

The NLD-88 Generation rally for constitutional reform in Mandalay was the second organized by the collaborating groups in as many days. The first meeting was held on Saturday in Rangoon, where some 15,000 supporters came out to show support for the cause.

Rally organizers say they plan to travel to other cities across all of Burma’s 14 states and divisions, while signature campaigns across the country will begin on May 27 and will run through July 19.

6 Responses to Suu Kyi Wraps Back-to-Back Rallies Urging Pre-2015 Charter Change

  1. NLD-DASSK, 88 Generation-Ming Ko Naing and all ethnics should continue to fight on weekly or monthly basis to demonstrate to abolish the Nargic 2008, fox than shwe’s military favored constitution ( raping and killing constitution).

  2. Now it’s time for Military to given up power and give it back to true owner of peoples of Burma. Majority of Burmese peoples will decide their future.
    It will be wrong if they though everyday will be sunny day.
    There’s nothing last forever in this world. You can not holding Tiger’s tail forever.
    You must let Tiger go for sake of Tiger and yourself.
    Wise man knows when to come and when to go.

    Dear Gen Min Aung Hlaing do it for country, do it once for peoples of Burma but not for one bad person. Please stand by peoples of Burma. Make you’re name in history and let you’re grandchildren proud of their grandpa.

  3. She did good job in Delta region, Yangon and Mandalay. She is the fairy of the public. Insincere regime has zero while Suu Kyi has full support.

  4. We the people would love to watch debate between Suu Kyi from the NLD and Htay Oo from USDP. We want to hear different ideas and visions for the future of Myanmar from both sides. Also, debate between Ye Htut from Thein Sein’s office and Min Ko Naing from 88 Generation Peace and Open Society. Kim Jong Un and Myanmar USDP claim that they love the nation and the people. We the people do not believe in what they say. So, instead of talking about Suu Kyi behind her back, Htay Oo must better accept the challenge from Suu Kyi. Debates will benefit all of us.

  5. Present undemocratic constitution of Burma ( Myanmar ) need to make amendment without any delay. Only military cronies and some un desirable groups of power monger from USDP party will not like to amend. Army should stay away from the politics and pocket borrow of some one. Better love your country and countrymen.

  6. NUP, NDF and USDP must not be trusted. Win Soe from NDF has does not have enough voice to convince USDP and soldiers on the Hlutdaw floor. People under the leadership of NLD and 88GPOS are the only voice to change Union of Myanmar. Ethnics rather co-operate with NLD and 88GPOS to achieve our shared goal which is to build genuine democracy in the land.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available. Comments with external links in the body text will be deleted by moderators.