Local Order Creates Climate of Fear

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By Naw Dwe Eh Khu/Kantarawaddy Times

A local order outlawing meetings or training unless permission is requested from the Kayah State government has caused disquietude among villagers.Khun Angelo, from the Karenni Myanmar Alliance for Transparency and Accountability (Karenni – MATA), said the ordinance is harmful for the state’s image.

“I am not attacking the government. We want to share our knowledge but the state government sees things differently and why it’s imposed the local order,” Khun Angelo told Kantarawaddy Times.

MATA wants to provide information about EIAs (environmental impact assessments) and IEEs (initial environmental examinations) for mining projects but Angelo said after the local order was imposed villagers are too afraid to attend meetings.Thae Reh, an MP for Hpruso township constituency-1, told Kantarawaddy Times he wasn’t given a clear answer how long the local order will last after asking in a parliamentary meeting last week.

Kayah State Transportation and Electricity minister Khin Maung Phyu said the local order was posted on announcement boards in GAD offices. In addition, leaders announced the mandate by megaphone in their villages.

Since the directive was enacted local leaders don’t want meetings or workshops in their communities, according to civil society organizations.

The government introduced the local order after thousands protested against the statue of Gen Aung San, father of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, in Loikaw, the capital of Kayah State.

During last year’s demonstrations police fired rubber bullets and a water cannon at crowds.

The courts sentenced Karreni youth to lengthy prison sentences for organizing protests.Human Rights Watch criticized the police’s treatment of demonstrators.

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for the New York based rights group, said on its website the police attacked “youth activists who were exercising their rights to peaceful protest and free expression.”

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