Burma Students in Peaceful March to Protest Political Role of Military
By Hnin Yadana Zaw 1 July 2015
RANGOON — Students in Burma led a peaceful march of between 50 and 200 protesters on Tuesday, urging Burma’s military to remove itself from politics, days after lawmakers voted down a measure to scrap the military’s effective legislative veto.
Burma emerged from 49 years of military rule in 2011 and now has a quasi-civilian government, but its 2008 Constitution reserves a quarter of parliamentary seats for unelected members of the military.
Any proposed change to the constitution must win support from at least 75 percent of lawmakers, giving the military an effective veto power.
Thursday’s change would have cut the support threshold to 70 percent, but the measure failed, as had been expected. Even if accepted it would still have needed to win support at a national referendum.
“The military has no dignity,” Aung Thaw Win, one of the demonstration leaders and a student at Rangoon’s Dagon University, told supporters in front of City Hall on Tuesday.
“Going against amendments to the constitution is insulting the people and disrespectful to the country,” he said, to applause.
Police remained on the fringe of the protest, although a demonstration against Burma’s education law in March was broken up violently by police and plainclothes men.
The protest stayed peaceful, despite lacking the formal police permission such an event requires, with policemen outfitted in helmets and riot shields patrolling alongside the marchers.