In the Quest for Utopia
El futuro de Myanmar está en juego en estos momentos: para conseguir tener elecciones “libres y justas” en 2015 en Myanmar, muchos cambios constitucionales han de ser acometidos por el actual gobierno quasi-civil.
En los últimos dos años el futuro de Myanmar ha experimentado un inesperado giro positivo, a pesar de que las verdaderas perspectivas de estabilidad y democracia siguen siendo aún inciertas. Hoy, Myanmar se encuentra, sin lugar a dudas, en un momento crucial. Con las elecciones parlamentarias que tendrán lugar en 2015, y por primera vez desde el golpe de estado del General Ne Win en 1962, el país podría finalmente tener una posibilidad de establecer una democracia auténtica. Siguiendo la ola de reformas más o menos reales, acometidas por el gobierno desde 2011, el parlamento ha acordado revisar la constitución escrita por los militares. Esto es condición sine qua non para que las elecciones de 2015 sean realmente libres y justas. Esta reforma constitucional permitiría a los birmanos elegir a quien quieran, estimularía la reconciliación nacional y protegería los derechos humanos que bajo la anterior junta militar estaban entre los peores niveles del mundo. Ningún asunto aislado podría jugar un papel más crítico en la posible transición de Myanmar en un país libre y democrático que la liberación de sus prisioneros políticos. “In the Quest for Utopia” es un homenaje a aquellas personas que arriesgan ser encarcelados e incluso sus vidas en su cruzada por conseguir las tan deseadas democracia y libertad.
Técnica: Marco extra profundo, separando la imagen del cristal. Imagen de un prisionero político al fondo. Cristal con una de las páginas de la Constitución de 2008 con al menos un artículo a revisar, escrito sobre éste.
01. U Thein Lwin Oo, Page 85 (Article 232)
Arrested in 1970 for 2 years and 3 months for being a relative of U Nu, the first democratically elected Prime Minister of Burma.
Arrested again in June 2005 for 6 years and 4 months for contacting the International Labour Organization to denounce that wages in Myanmar were very low. The ILO is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) dedicated to improving labour conditions and living standards throughout the world.
PAGE 85 OF THE 2008 CONSTITUTION. ARTICLE 232(b). The military’s control over home affairs gives the Defence Services broad power over the lives of ordinary citizens in their daily life.
02. U Naing Naing aka Saw Naing Naing, Page 169 (Article 420)
Arrested in 1990 for 8 years and 3 months as a result of his activities with the National League for Democracy led by Aung San Suu Kyi, of which he became a member after participating in the 1988 Uprising.
Arrested again in 2000, for 9 years, for his activities as a leading member of the NLD and for issuing the NLD member’s statement. This statement asked for the release of members who were under house arrest and for urgent tripartite dialogue between the Government, NLD and Ethnic groups. It also denounced the unlawful action of the State Peace and Development Council.
PAGE 169 OF THE 2008 CONSTITUTION ARTICLE 420. The Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Services may, during a state of emergency, restrict or suspend one or more fundamental rights, such as the right to assembly, the right to life and the right not to be tortured…
04. Phyoe Phyoe Aung, Page 52 (Article 141b)
Arrested in 2008, when she was 19, for 3 years and 5 months for having participated in re-establishing the All Burma Federation of Students Unions (ABFSU) at the very beginning of the Saffron Revolution in 2007. After hiding for 9 months from the military, she left her cover and joined a volunteer group that had been formed by a friend of her father to deliver aid at the Irrawaddy Delta region after Cyclone Nargis struck. They dug a big hole in a field and they buried corpses that people were too afraid to touch because of religious beliefs or through fear of being punished by the authorities. On the third night, while coming back to Yangon, she was caught. The rest of the group (including her father, Political Prisoner 7/20) was arrested for criminal association, for having been found together with her.
PAGE 52 OF THE 2008 CONSTITUTION. ARTICLE 141(b) (AS ARTICLES 74, 109(b) AND 161(b)).These Articles ensure a large military presence in Myanmar’s legislative bodies. The military representatives will occupy one fourth of Members of Parliament in all legislative bodies, which violates the principle of separation of powers and is contrary to a democracy in which the people are free to choose their own representatives.
07. Newin, Page 173 (Article 436)
Arrested in 1989 for 15 years and 4 months for being part of the Communist Party.
Arrested in 2008 for 2 years and 7 months for crimes against state tranquillity and unlawful association. Both Nay Win and his daughter (Political Prisoner 4/20) were arrested in the aftermath of the May 2008 Cyclone Nargis disaster for helping to bury the people killed by the storm, despite the then-ruling military regime’s efforts to block aid to affected regions. On their third night coming back to Yangon they were caught and the 6 were arrested because Phyoe Phyoe Aung, Newin’s daughter, was there and she was “part of a political movement”.
PAGE 173 OF THE 2008 CONSTITUTION. ARTICLE 436. This Article is the main obstacle for constitutional reform. It gives the Burmese military an effective veto over Constitutional amendments. Amending any part of the Constitution requires the support of more than seventy-five per cent of members of the Union Parliament, in which a quarter of seats are reserved for (unelected) serving military officials, and a nation-wide referendum with the votes of more than half of those who are eligible to vote.
08. U Soe Han, Page 20 (Article 59f)
Arrested in 2000 for 9 years for his activities as a NLD member and for helping issuing the NLD member’s statement. The statement asked for the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other Central Executive Committee members who were under house arrest, for the Head Quarters and (Yangon) Division Branch to be allowed to reopen. It also called for urgent tripartite dialogue between the Government, NLD and Ethnic groups, and denounced the unlawful action of the State Peace and Development Council. They printed the statement on a computer and sent it to the Voice of America through the US Embassy. When in prison, his daughter died in a motorcycle accident in 1999 and both his wife and mother died in 2000.
PAGE 20 OF THE 2008 CONSTITUTION. ARTICLE 59 (f). This Article disqualifies from the office of President or Vice Presidents any of those who have a spouse or children who are foreign citizens, thus precluding Aung San Suu Kyi from taking up the post of President on the basis that she was once married to a foreigner and that her sons do not carry Myanmar passports. Aung San Suu Kyi’s late husband was a British citizen, as are her two sons.
09. Nay Yee Ba Swe, Page 10 (Article 37)
She was 23 when she was arrested in 1975 for nearly 4 years for participating in a demonstration at the Shwedagon pagoda in commemoration of the anniversary of the 1974 workers’ strike. She later participated in the 1988 Uprising and in 1990 she participated in the multi-party general election under the AFPFL Original Party. Since December 2011 she is a member of the NLD.
She is the daughter of Ba Swe, Minister of Defence from 1952-1956, and Prime Minister between June 1956 and March 1957.
PAGE 10 OF THE 2008 CONSTITUTION. ARTICLES 37(a) AND 40. ARTICLE 37(a)&ARTICLE 40.Article 37 gives the government ultimate ownership of all land and natural resources in the first place. Article 40 gives unduly broad rights to the President and the army during times of emergency. As the nature of a threat to the country becomes more severe, the army assumes more power. Furthermore, the nature of the threats is not defined, giving too much discretion to the President or Commander-in-Chief.
12. Daw Pyone Pyone Aye, Page 75 (Article 201)
Arrested in 1997 for 6 years and 9 months for not having given away her husband to the authorities once he started on political issues.
PAGE 75 OF THE 2008 CONSTITUTION. ARTICLE 201. Article 201 creates the National Defence and Security Council (NDSC), probably the most powerful non-elected body under the Constitution, granting excessive power in the hands of military officials. It consists of eleven officials, five of whom are required to be active-duty military personnel, while the remaining positions may be ex-army personnel.
14. U Nyunt Hlaing, Page 163 (Article 404)
Arrested in 1997 for 4 years and 5 months for sending a letter to the government against the confiscation of the lands of the farmers by the military government. He was 58.
PAGE 163 OF THE 2008 CONSTITUTION. ARTICLES 404 through 407. These articles require political parties to have “non-disintegration of the Union” and “loyalty” as their objectives. The power granted under these Articles to the Government which, in many cases, will be a political opponent of the parties accused of Article 407 activities, is so broad that it effectively allows the Government to hinder political parties’ freedom of association, threaten opponents with dissolution, and restrict funding of opponents. Furthermore, the 2008 Constitution does not allow for any review of political parties’ activities by an impartial and legitimate body.
15. U Soe Htike, Page 149 (Article 345)
Arrested in 1991 for 7 years and 8 months for being a member of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU). He was falsely accused of having a gun.
PAGE 149 OF THE 2008 CONSTITUTION. ARTICLE 345(a). Article 345 (a) says that a citizen is a person born of parents both of whom are nationals of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. Article 345(a) raises questions such as, “what about the child of a Burmese citizen and a non-Burmese citizen?” and “what about people who have been living in Burma since the colonial era?” An example is that with this Article, the Rohingya’s legal status remains entirely dependent on the wishes of the government.
16. Sithu Maung, Page 27 (Article 74)
Arrested in 2007 for 3 years and 3 months for re-founding the outlawed ABFSU and his role in leading the Saffron Revolution in 2007. On September 2007 Sithu Maung participated in the demonstrations with peaceful monks and other protestors, demanding to be allowed to form student unions and called for democracy. Many were arrested by the military and police force. Sithu Maung said to the media “this movement may stop for a while, but already students, artists, monks and musicians have worked together. We will bow and pay respect to those who were killed for this movement. The revolution will continue.” Although he was sentenced to 11 years and 6 months for unlawful association and crimes against state tranquillity, he was released in January 2012 under a presidential conditional amnesty.
PAGE 27 OF THE 2008 CONSTITUTION. ARTICLE 74 (AS 109(b), 141(b) AND 161(b). These Articles ensure a large military presence in Myanmar’s legislative bodies. The military representatives will occupy one fourth of Members of Parliament in all legislative bodies, which violates the principle of separation of powers and is contrary to a democracy in which the people are free to choose their own representatives.
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