Human Rights Course Forced to Close

By Zarni Mann 23 August 2012

A week-long human rights training program to empower local people in Yay Nan Chaung, Magwe Division, was forced to close down by the township Election Commission for operating without permission.

Organized by members of the main opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party, the course sought to teach the community about their rights and responsibilities as Burma moves towards democracy under President’s Thein Sein’s reformist administration.

“It is my family who organized the training,” said Khin Saw Htay, a member of the local NLD party. “Since it is not organized by the party, we do not need to request permission from the Election Commission and they do not have the authority to force us to shut down.”

Because of the order to cease teaching, only the course’s opening ceremony could be held at the township hall on Aug. 21.

“The training is now carrying on at my home although it is too little space,” added Khin Saw Htay. “However, we will eventually move back to the township hall no matter what happens.”

The course involves studying the widely-condemned 2008 Constitution while educating participants about human rights, children’s rights, women’s right and political science. Around 60 local people signed up for the course.

“Since the president and his new government are moving forward for the development of education in the country, this training is just help from the private sector and that is a right of citizens which is mentioned in the Constitution,” said Than Aung, one of the organizers.

Course leaders submitted a complaint letter condemning the action of the township Election Commission to Thein Sein, the chairmen of the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament, the chairman of the Union Election Commission and the National Human Rights Commission.

“We cannot accept this action of the township Election Commission as it contradicts the basic rights of citizens,” added Than Aung. “We see it as a withdrawal action despite the president and the government’s vow to move on and not turn back.”