JURIST EXCLUSIVE – In a declaration Saturday evening Myanmar time, the Myanmar military government announced that under emergency powers claimed in the wake of its February 1 coup, it was revoking key sections of the country’s citizen privacy law protecting basic freedoms. Among the revoked sections of the Law Protecting the Privacy and Security of Citizens are sections protecting citizens from home entry and arrest without warrant, and limiting detentions without charge to under 24 hours.
In recent days the Myanmar military government has arrested more protesters and dissidents, a significant number under cover of darkness, and people have taken to the streets in their neighborhoods to protect potential arrestees from police action. On Friday the military government announced it was releasing more than 23,000 prisoners, a move seen by many domestic and international observers as potentially opening up space for wide-ranging civic detentions. The military is also in the process of crafting a new cyberlaw bill scheduled for official release next week that would dramatically restrict Internet access and online privacy.
Law student correspondents for JURIST in Myanmar who alerted JURIST to Saturday’s revocations of basic civil liberties within minutes of their announcement expressed alarm and distress at the deteriorating situation. One wrote:
In our country there is no law since February 1. … It is so disastrous to live in a country where there is no rule of law, or law and order, and where there are violations of human rights every second.
Our correspondents passed along this comment by a Myanmar lawyer decrying Saturday’s rights restrictions:
Probably today will be the day I can burn my lawyer’s license because there is no point in practicing law in this lawless state where basic human rights are stripped away for their acts of terrorism.