Myanmar on Tuesday scrapped a law used by the former military government to silence political activists, which threatened jail for anyone who endangered public morality or execution for damaging telephone lines.
The Emergency Provisions Act, passed in 1950 after the then Burma won independence from Britain, became the junta’s weapon of choice to silence dissent during its half-century in power.
Lawmakers from the National League for Democracy (NLD) party, led by Nobel laureate and Burmese Minister of Foreign Affairs Aung San Suu Kyi, have been trying to repeal it since they took power in late March.
Burmese House of Nationalities Speaker Mahn Win Khaing Than on Tuesday told parliament that legislation overturning the act had been approved.
Under the repressive act, anyone committing treason could face life behind bars or even death. Hefty terms were also meted out for other crimes, such as spreading false news or disrupting public morality.
Previous attempts to eliminate or amend the act were scuppered by opposition from military lawmakers, who still control one-quarter of the seats in parliament.
Freedom has flourished in Myanmar since elections that swept the NLD to power, with hundreds of political prisoners released and several oppressive laws revoked.
Last month, parliament also scrapped part of a law used by authorities to barge into people’s houses late at night, often targeting the opposition.
However, activists say authoritarian legislation is still being used to silence criticism.
Despite sky-high hopes Aung San Suu Kyi’s government would usher in a new era of free expression, several people have been prosecuted for defamation since her party took power.
Last month, a man was jailed for nine months for calling Burmese President Htin Kyaw an “idiot” and “crazy” in online posts because of a complaint by a local NLD member.
French authorities yesterday said that they would close a Paris mosque as part of a clampdown on radical Islam that has yielded over a dozen arrests following the beheading of a teacher who had shown his pupils a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed. The mosque in a densely populated suburb northeast of Paris had disseminated a video on its Facebook page days before Friday’s gruesome murder, railing against teacher Samuel Paty’s choice of material for a class discussion on freedom of expression, a source close to the investigation said. The French Ministry of the Interior said the mosque in Pantin, which has
LONGSTANDING NEUTRALITY: The US request came as it vied for influence in Southeast Asia with China, but Indonesia has never let foreign militaries operate there Indonesia this year rejected a proposal by the US to allow its P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance planes to land and refuel there, four senior Indonesian officials familiar with the matter have said. US officials made multiple “high-level” approaches in July and August to Indonesia’s defense and foreign ministers before Indonesian President Joko Widodo rebuffed the request, the officials said. Representatives for Indonesia’s president and defense minister, the US Department of State’s Office of Press Relations and the US embassy in Jakarta did not respond to requests for comment. Representatives for the US Department of Defense and Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi
COVID-19 UNDER CONTROL: The two prime ministers agreed to ease entry bans, and allow short-term business visits and reopen flights between Vietnam and Japan Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, in his first overseas summit since taking office last month, yesterday agreed with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to step up defense and security cooperation in the face of China’s expanding influence in the region. In talks in Hanoi, Suga and Phuc set up a basic agreement allowing Japan to export defense equipment and technology to Vietnam. Japan has been pursuing such agreements to bolster ties with Southeast Asian nations and sustain its own defense industry. Suga said that his four-day trip to Vietnam and Indonesia would be key to pursuing the “free and open Indo-Pacific” vision
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night said that he has no problem with being held responsible for the many killings under his crackdown on drugs, and that he is ready to face charges that could land him in jail, but not charges of crimes against humanity. Duterte’s televised remarks were among his clearest acknowledgement of the prospects that he could face a deluge of criminal charges for the bloody campaign he launched after taking office in the middle of 2016. Police have reported that at least 5,856 drug suspects have been killed in raids and more than 256,000 others arrested since