Activists in Mandalay Call for Meeting on ‘Government Negligence’

By Zarni Mann 14 January 2015

MANDALAY — Activists in Mandalay are preparing to hold a public meeting this week in Burma’s second city, with thousands of farmers, laborers, students and average citizens expected to join a gathering aimed at spotlighting government shortcomings.

The organizers have said that the meeting on Friday has been called to create public awareness about the lack of rule of law, right abuses and other failings of Burma’s government.

“There are many things happening in our country that show the lack of rule of law and negligence of the government. A recent example is the death of Khin Win, a farmer from Letpadaung. The government is still neglecting to take action against the police,” said Thein Aung Myint from the Movement for Democracy Current Force, one of the organizers of the meeting.

Khin Win was shot dead by police last month when protestors clashed with officers at the controversial Letpadaung copper mine in central Burma.

Friday’s meeting will aim to inform the public and the government, according to organizers, that the latter is handling an array of issues poorly, from labor rights abuses and conflicts drawn along ethnic or religious lines to oppression of journalists and land rights conflicts nationwide.

“The government has handled these matters poorly so that the problems still exist. If these matters are neglected, they will become the main obstacles to becoming a democratic country,” said activist Aye Thein.

“And, we want to urge the government to act fairly—to lessen the oppression of students, political activists and Buddhist monks, and to better control communal conflicts that threaten stability and peace,” he added.

Organizers, mainly made up of rights activists and young Buddhist monks, said they would not seek permission from authorities to hold the meeting, raising the possibility that they could be charged with violating Burma’s Peaceful Assembly Law.

The 8am gathering will take place at Phayagyi A Lae Tike Monastery, located south of Mandalay’s well-known Mahamuni Pagoda.

“The meeting is open and welcomes whoever is interested in justice and wants to create a better country. We will submit the results from the meeting to government officials, and local and international organizations, to push the government to perform its best for its citizens,” said Moe Htet Nay, a student activist from Mandalay.

Calls for the meeting come at a time of growing disillusionment at home and abroad over a reform program in Burma that began in 2011 but appears to have lost steam in recent months.