Dictatorship in MyanmarMyanmar dictatorship
Myanmar Business Today Dictatorship
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Are the dates showing a decreasing dictatorship in Myanmar?
Andi Bushman has collected information from various protests in Myanmar from 2011 to 2014. Myanmar is now in a phase of societal, economical and politic changes after centuries of isolating itself. Extensive reform efforts were initiated when quasi-civilian Chairman Thein Sein took office in February 2011.
Myanmar has since been seen by many commentators in a democratic process. But it is not only an election and a parliamentary assembly that constitute a democratic representation - fundamental freedoms and civic involvement are also essential to it. One issue that has not yet been resolved in the case of Myanmar is how these criticisms have changed?
Freedom of speech, freedom of associations and freedom of assemblage must at least be respected in a democratic system, so that the public can take their positions independently of the state and state. They are also essential for the development of a civic community in which groups are articulating societal demands on the state and thus exerting "pressure" on further reforms towards it.
Furthermore, freedoms of opinion, union and assemblage are part of universally held humanitarian values, which are the material notion of the constitution. How, then, can we expect these fundamental freedoms to have been altered in a process of change? Myanmar should see a visible improvement in civic freedoms in practical terms at least from 2011.
With Regulation No. 1/1988, the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) initially prohibited the practice of fundamental freedoms in January 1988. But it is not uncommon in dictatorial regimes to maintain civic freedoms on the record, namely in their constitutions, while at the same in practice their practice is restricted and persecuted.
It is therefore important to consider whether civic freedoms are being practised in practice - for example in the shape of open demonstrations. Protesting requires free expression, gathering and unification, which allows individuals to speak out, organize, gather and express their views. Thus, meetings of protesters are a good indication of whether and how civic freedoms are practised (and how the state reacts to such practices).
Four important results are clear, based on the Myanmar protests events record, which contains 185 protests that took place in Myanmar between February 2011 and the end of 2014. It is clear at the beginning that protests have grown over the years. Between 2011 and 2014, the number of protests and strike action has more than quadrupled.
Simultaneously, the number of demonstrations doubles over the same timeframe. Whereas the 2011 demonstrations were mainly short-lived (less than 24 hours), most of the 2014 demonstrations were longer-lasting "camps". "This is also mirrored in the incidence of mass demonstrations - those directly related to earlier one.
With regard to the geographic spread of the demonstrations, the vast bulk of the demonstrations took place in the towns, while only a few took place in more remote areas. The figures show that fundamental freedoms are being upheld. More promisingly, not only the quantity but also the quality features of protested activity have shifted.
It is particularly remarkable that over the course of the years more and more NGOs, other movement and groups have called themselves more and more frankly outlaws. Since March 2016, the National League for Democracy (NLD), which has been in government, and its branch of young people were only involved in 10 percent of all outrages. This made it clear that it was not only the NLD that protested in Myanmar.
Single Issue Movements" - groups that pursue a certain goal - also arose in 2013 and 2014 as organizational forcings. One example is the Committee to Doser Movement of the Gems Marketplace, which wanted to prevent the transfer of a store to Mandalay in 2014. The fact that more groups are identifiable does not mean that overall there is more civic involvement - it can mean that already established players "identify themselves" and are more open to their goals.
Since 2013 in particular, the demonstrations have focused more and more on the issue of people' s freedoms and the taking of lands. Overall, it can be concluded from the figures that the scope for civic involvement has widened over the years. In judging the state under the rule of the rule of law, how has the state's attitude towards the protesters been changing?
Whilst more and more civic involvement means that oppression is probably a thing of the past, it could just have been "better hidden". In many cases, these non-formal methodologies were still in use in 2014. Especially and especially in 2013, there have been specific intimidating actions in connection with protests against the forcible suppression of the Letpadaung mine in November 2012.
However, by 2014 the use of these informational but authoritarian approaches has declined significantly. However, a more detailed study of the legislation justifying the detention of protesters shows that they lag far behind Myanmar's internationally accepted humanitarian law (see, for example, Art. 12 of Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Law No. 15/2011, also known as the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law).
For example, until recently it was possible for non-violent protesters to be condemned to several years in jail just because they had distributed "false information". "For example, although the Law on the Peaceable Assembly and the Peace Procession has been repeatedly amended and some oppressive provisions lifted, the number of detentions is still increasing.
At the 31st of May 2016 the Assembly adopted a new reform of the Law on the Peaceable Assembly and the Peace Procession. We will have to wait and see whether in the near term there will be jail terms in connection with non-violent protest or whether other legislation will only be used as a basis for judicial rulings and imprisonment (e.g. paragraph 505b of the Criminal Code or the Telecommunications Act, which allows up to three years' imprisonment for "defamation" of the government).
By 2014, progression. Myanmar's protests have increased both quantitatively and qualitatively since Thein Sein took power and the consistent implementation of reform. The arbitrariness against demonstrators has decreased since 2014, a clear indication that the trend in fundamental freedoms has developed positively.
There is no doubt that the legislation against protests will be amended. This is why since the nationally acclaimed 2015 election and the change of leadership to the new NLD administration in 2016, it can be assumed that the level of oppression will continue to decline after 2014. A full review of the Myanmar protests can be found in this working document.