Burma: Suu Kyi’s govt proposes to keep junta restrictions on free speech
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Burma: Suu Kyi’s govt proposes to keep junta restrictions on free speech

THE democratic government of Ang Sang Suu Kyi has proposed to keep some restrictions put in place by the junta to curb free speech and the right to protest in Burma (Myanmar).

Proposals of the draft bill, which were submitted last week, would punish protesters for spreading “wrong” information and makes deviating from pre-registered chants an offence.

Reuters also reports that the draft bill, called the Peaceful Assembly Law, will bar non-citizens from protesting and will also criminally penalize anyone who is considered to be “disturbing” or “annoying”.

The category of “non-citizens” is largely made up of the undocumented Rohingya Muslim minority, who face systematic persecution in Burma (Myanmar).

These proposals have surfaced just days after the Burmese foreign ministry warned the newly-appointed U.S. envoy Scot Marciel to refrain from using the term “Rohingya”.

SEE ALSO: Burma: US envoy says Muslim minority has a right to call themselves ‘Rohingya’

Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) is now being criticized for retaining the oppressive military laws that they fought so hard to overcome during the struggle for democracy.

Concerns about Suu Kyi’s government’s refusal to address the plight of the stateless Rohingya Muslims have been further compounded by news of this bill, which says it is aimed at protecting peaceful protesters rather than penalizing them.

David Mathieson, senior researcher at the Yangon-based branch of Human Rights Watch, told Reuters they were concerned about the NLD “rushing” the draft bill through.

He said: “The bill should guarantee the right to protest, and there’s no reason why it should include penalties against protesters.”

Lawmakers have until May 16 to submit questions, and after being debated in the upper house, the bill will be passed to the lower house for further deliberation.