Burmese in Norway Greet Their President with Protest

By The Irrawaddy 27 February 2013

As Burma’s President Thein Sein arrived in Norway on Tuesday to start his prestigious European tour as a recognized reformist leader, a small group of local Burmese gave him a more frosty welcome.

About 50 protesters had gathered on the windy streets of the Norwegian capital Oslo in front of the Hotel Continental, where Thein Sein will stay during his three-day visit, to let him know that the reforms of his quasi-civilian government are not going far enough.

“No 2008 Constitution!,” “No Civil War!,” “Stop Corruption Now!,” the gaggle of Burmese protesters could be heard shouting on a video recording of the event.

President Thein Sein is on a 12-day tour of Europe that will take him through Norway, Finland, Austria, Belgium and Italy.

The protesters urged his government, which is still dominated by Burma’s former military rulers, to end ethnic conflict in the country and amend the Constitution as it guarantees enormous power to the military.

“There can be no meaningful reform without making basic changes, such as the amendment of the 2008 Constitution,” said Myit Aye, a leading protester.

He was later able to meet with Burmese Minister of the President’s Office Soe Thein and Deputy Minister of Information Ye Htut to explain the protesters’ demands.

The Oslo event was also joined by a well-known Burmese musician Mun Awng, singing his popular revolutionary songs such as “Moment of Truth” and “Tempest of Blood.”

“We still can’t accept reforms in Burma that’s why we are here today,” Mung Awng told The Irrawaddy. “Still, there are no human rights and ethnic rights in our country. If we go along with the 2008 Constitution, our country will be under military rule for another 50 years.”