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Myanmar: Hundreds March Against Proposed Amendments to Protest Laws


FILE - Journalists take part in a protest outside the court where Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo attend a hearing in Yangon, Myanmar, Jan. 10, 2018.

Hundreds of rights activists marched through Yangon City Monday to oppose proposed amendments to a bill that regulates peaceful protesting in the Southeast Asian nation.

VOA Burmese reports that around 500 protesters marched through the city Monday, while nearly 200 civil society groups in Myanmar signed a petition against the amendment.

Amendments to the 2011 Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law would make it easier to charge demonstrators with crimes and increase penalties for violations.

"Anyone who instigates, persuades others intentionally or knowingly to contradict national security, the rule of law, tranquility and public morale" can be punishable by up to three years in jail, the clause reads.

The current civilian government, led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, proposed adding the clause last month, which would also require protest organizers to provide details on their budget, including the source of their funding.

The bill is being discussed in the upper house of Myanmar's parliament Monday, where some MPs, even from the ruling party, oppose the amendment.

The 2011 law was welcomed at the time for promoting free speech suppressed under the previous military regime, most notably allowing street protests if permission was obtained beforehand.

VOA Burmese contributed to this report.

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