Freedom of Association and Assembly / Protests
Vajnai v. Hungary
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Myo Min Min and Naing Htay Lwin were sentenced on September 11, 2015 to two years and six months imprisonment under Article 505 (b) of the Myanmar Criminal Code after they protested without permission. They were also convicted of violating the conditions of permission to protest under Article 18 and 19 of the Peaceful Assembly Law. Both Ko Myo Min Min and Ko Naing Htay Lwin were released due to Presidential amnesty along with other 83 prisoners on April 17, 2016.
Global FoE could not identify official legal and government records on the case and information on the case was derived from secondary sources. Global FoE notes that media outlets may not provide complete information about this case. Additional information regarding legal matters will be updated as an official source becomes available.
Ko Myo Min Min had been the chairperson of the Garment Factory Workers Organization in Shwepyithar and was working at the E-Land Myanmar garment factory, while Ko Naing Htay Lwin worked for the Ford Glory Factory nearby.
The two individuals protested over payment and factory conditions on February, 2015, in which 2,000 workers from three garment factories joined to demand a raise in their monthly wage to 80,000 kyats (U.S. $78). The Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association (MGMA), which represents the garment companies, stated that the workers’ demands were not possible.
The workers claimed that they had been forced to work for eight hours per day with three hours extra for five days per week. They also had to work for four hours overtime on Sunday.
The two individuals were arrested on February 20, 2015, after they gave a press conference which explained the workers’ demands. They were charged under Article 505 (b) of the Myanmar Criminal Code as well as Articles 18 and 19 of the Peaceful Assembly Law. Both were handed prison terms of two years and six months each on September 11, 2015. They were released from Insein Prison in Rangoon on April 17, 2016 due to Presidential amnesty.
There is no official court document for this case. However, a look at the articles that were used by the judge to sentence both individuals to imprisonment reveals likely political motives. Article 505 (b) of the Criminal Code as well as the Peaceful Assembly Law have been used several times to sentence individuals for exercising their rights to freedom of expression. Article 505 (b), which states “Whoever makes, publishes or circulates any statement, rumour or report with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public, or to any section of the public whereby any person may be induced to commit an offence against the State or against the public tranquility, shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.” This statute is very broad. The Criminal Code itself is also controversial as it is from the British colonial era. Regarding the Peaceful Assembly Law, it clearly suppresses the right to freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly as it requires those who want to protest to obtain permission before doing so with details of the protest such as date, time, and purpose. It can be concluded that the ruling is unfair.
Decision Direction indicates whether the decision expands or contracts expression based on an analysis of the case.
This case contracts expression as the two individuals involved are currently being punished for peacefully protesting.
Global Perspective demonstrates how the court’s decision was influenced by standards from one or many regions.
Case significance refers to how influential the case is and how its significance changes over time.
Let us know if you notice errors or if the case analysis needs revision.