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Burma’s Parliament – A Tool for Institutionalized Oppression

By Altsean-Burma  •  November 28, 2011

Despite the regime’s claim that an elected legislature was a crucial step towards the emergence of its “discipline-flourishing democracy,” the Parliament turned out to be the regime’s key tool for institutionalizing oppression.

The pro-regime Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP)-dominated Parliament refused to repeal the draconian laws that provided the basis for the imprisonment of several thousand political prisoners in recent years. The refusal of Parliament to do away with the existing oppressive laws made the adoption of new and more progressive legislation irrelevant. The much-publicized “Peaceful Gathering and Demonstration Law” and “Labor Organizations Law” will not be sufficient to guarantee freedom of assembly and workers’ rights as long as the regime is still able to invoke the blanket “security” provisions of draconian laws.

The Parliament’s second session repeated the sham parliamentary debates witnessed during the January-March first session. Important issues, such as national reconciliation and the ongoing conflict in ethnic areas were only marginally discussed. During question time, regime ministers and officials went to great lengths to categorically deny human rights abuses and to justify repressive measures.

Debate and approval of the national budget remained off-limits to MPs because State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) Chairman Sr Gen Than Shwe approved the budget for the 2011-2012 financial year before Parliament convened on 31 January.

The laws that govern parliamentary proceedings, enacted by Than Shwe in October 2010, continued to severely restrict parliamentary debate and participation. Censorship and lack of access continued to characterize the media environment during the Parliament’s second session.

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This post is in: Military Regime, Spotlight

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