YANGON — Yangon police have confirmed that demonstrations and rallies will no longer be permitted in the city’s downtown and other dense urban areas, according to an order from the Regional Home Affairs Ministry.
The 11 townships covered by the protest ban are Kyauktada, Pabedan, Latha, Lanmadaw, Botahtaung, Bahan, Sanchaung, Dagon, Ahlone, Mingalar Taung Nyunt and Pazundaung.
The areas are in critical parts of the city and have thoroughfares used by the public and VIPs. Rallies interrupt commuter traffic, cause a nuisance to the public, and raise safety concerns, the directive said.
Groups applying to hold rallies within the 11 townships will be directed to Hit Taing field in Tamwe Township. Police officials from Botahtaung and Pabedan townships confirmed to The Irrawaddy that they had received the order on Wednesday.
Yangon’s City Hall is located in Kyauktada Township in the heart of downtown and is one of the most concentrated areas in the city. Most rallies and demonstrations are held outside Mahabandoola Park, which is located in front of City Hall, to draw attention from the public.
The latest gatherings to be held in front of City Hall were an interfaith peace rally organized by the Yangon chapter of the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party on Oct. 31 and attended by Divisional Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein, and a pro-military and nationalist rally, in which thousands of people participated.
The rallies caused severe traffic congestion and attracted complaints from commuters.
U Kyaw Zay Ya, a regional lawmaker representing Dagon Township, told The Irrawaddy that the move would inconvenience those who wanted to hold rallies.
“Prohibiting protests in specific areas where there is a school or government offices is acceptable but restricting them in a whole area [township] is not logical,” he said.
Myanmar’s Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law requires demonstrators to notify local authorities 48 hours in advance of staging a protest or rally in a public area.