About 50 Burmese factory workers and activists involved in a protest march that ended in scuffles with security forces this week have been charged with rioting, police said yesterday.
The latest move by authorities to punish demonstrators from recent rallies comes despite efforts by Aung San Suu Kyi’s new civilian-led government to amend draconian protest laws as the country tries to shake off the repressive legacy of the former junta.
The labor protesters were on Wednesday blocked by a wall of police as they tried to complete an unauthorized march into the capital, Naypyidaw. They had walked for three weeks in searing temperatures from the northern Sagaing Region, where about 100 workers have recently been fired from a timber factory.
Scuffles broke out as they were detained.
Authorities said they had initially planned to charge just the rally leaders, but the remaining demonstrators had insisted on all being prosecuted together.
“Now around 50 of them have been charged with ... joining in or continuing an unlawful assembly and rioting,” Naypyidaw region police head Ko Ko Aung said.
He told reporters that authorities had banned the march into the capital on the grounds of national security.
About 20 other protesters were sent home soon after the police clampdown.
Naypyidaw was built 10 years ago in remote tropical scrubland by Myanmar’s former military rulers.
It is still considered a stronghold of the army, despite playing host to the country’s parliament and its first elected civilian government in half a century.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s party is stacked with former dissidents who served prison time for their opposition to Myanmar’s military governments.
Since taking the helm following a landslide election victory in November last year, the administration has freed scores of activists and political prisoners and signaled its determination to repeal oppressive laws.
However, rights groups have expressed concern over efforts to amend the Peaceful Assembly Act, fearing it could continue to penalize non-violent demonstrations, albeit with shorter jail terms.
Lawmakers debated the amendment in parliament on Thursday calling for further changes, but have not yet voted on the issue.
Earlier this week police officials announced plans to take action against five leaders of an interfaith rally in Yangon, because the campaigners had deviated from the agreed protest route.
Yangon police have also begun legal action against seven leaders of an unauthorized protest by Buddhist nationalists outside the US embassy last month.
One of Australia’s two active volcanoes on an island near Antarctica — known as Big Ben — has been spotted by satellite spewing lava. The lava flow on the uninhabited Heard Island, about 4,100km southwest of Perth and 1,500km north of Antarctica, is part of an ongoing eruption that was first noted more than a decade ago. The image was caught by the European Space Agency’s Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellite on Thursday, and is a composite of an optical picture and an infrared image. The lava is seen flowing down the side of Big Ben from near the summit, known as Mawson Peak.
SYMBOLIC: The bill sponsored by a cross-party group of lawmakers was hailed as a ‘historic moment’ in the fight for marriage equality, but is unlikely to pass Lawmakers in South Korea have proposed the country’s first same-sex marriage bill, in a move hailed by civic groups as a defining moment in the fight for equality. The marriage equality bill, proposed by South Korean lawmaker Jang Hye-yeong of the minor opposition Justice Party and co-sponsored by 12 lawmakers across all the main parties, seeks to amend the country’s civil code to allow same-sex marriage. The bill is unlikely to pass, but forms part of a trio of bills expected to increase pressure on the government to expand the idea of family beyond traditional criteria. The two other bills relate to
After the sun sets in Harare, the streets of Zimbabwe’s capital suddenly burst to life. Carts, cars and trucks turned into makeshift, unauthorized shops sell anything from potatoes to babies’ diapers on the pavements of the city center. Shopping is best done at night in times of hyperinflation and economic hardship. Cash-crunched Zimbabweans are increasingly turning to informal vendors for their groceries shopping, as, with little or no overheads, street hawkers can afford to undercut big supermarkets. “Everything is always cheaper outside,” Blessing Steven, 23, a taxi driver, said, buying a bottle of juice for US$0.50 at a roadside stall rather than
OUTSPOKEN: Cresenciano Bunduquin, who was killed by motorcycle-riding shooters, hosted a program about ‘hard-hitting’ local issues such as illegal gambling and politics A radio broadcaster was yesterday fatally shot outside his home in the central Philippines, police said, the latest in a long list of journalists killed in the country. Cresenciano Bunduquin, 50, was killed by motorcycle-riding shooters in Calapan City in Oriental Mindoro province, police Colonel Samuel Delorino said. One of the assailants died after Bunduquin’s son hit the shooters with his vehicle as they fled the scene of the pre-dawn attack. “The remaining suspect was able to run off. The hot pursuit operation is still ongoing,” Delorino said. The archipelago nation is one of the most dangerous places in the world for