March During Asean Summit to Call for Int’l Support for Charter Reform

By San Yamin Aung 6 November 2014

RANGOON — Several activist groups in Rangoon are planning to march to the US Embassy during the Asean Summit next week in order to call on the international community to support for significant constitutional reforms in Burma, an activist said.

Myat Kyaw, a spokesman of the activist group Mass Movement Acceleration Network, told The Irrawaddy that seven civil society groups, including the Movement for Democracy Current Forces and Kyi Myin Dine Township Youth Network, are planning to join the event on Nov. 12.

He said the activists were planning to march from the Hledan Township overpass to the US embassy on University Avenue and then on to Thanlwin Road.

The White House has announced that President Obama will attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and East Asia summits in Naypyidaw on Nov. 12-14. He will hold a bilateral meeting President Thein Sein and meet with Suu Kyi in Rangoon on Nov. 14. Many other world leaders are also expected to attend the regional meetings.

Myat Kyaw said the activists would ask the United States and the international community to pressure President Thein Sein’s government to accept amendments to articles in the Constitution that bar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from the presidency and give political powers to the Burma Army, such as direct control over a quarter of Parliament seats.

The charter is also criticized by ethnic minority groups who demand more autonomy from the central government.

“By knowing Myanmar’s real situation, we want the world leaders, including President Obama, to review the situation in Myanmar and make the right decision and support constitutional reform,” he said.

The ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and the military have so far dragged their feet on making significant constitutional reforms, despite a public campaign by Suu Kyi and the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society activists.

Myat Kyaw said he sent a letter to Kamayut Township Police Station seeking permission for the march, adding that the activists planned to go ahead with the event regardless of the decision of the police.

“We would like to urge the government to seriously consider and value a petition signed by 5 million people calling for a change,” Myat Kyaw said, referring an opposition campaign petition that collected millions signatures in support of the changes.

Moe Thway, a youth activist with Generation Wave, said his organization in principle support the march and would consider joining it. “We support it because we need to let the international community exactly how the reforms in our country are going,” he said.

“The reforms can benefit from international pressure… and the government needs to fulfil the public’s demand for constitutional amendments if they genuinely want [Myanmar] to become a democratic country.”