A Glimpse of High Treason and Loyalty to the Nation

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By Maung Sarga

Presently, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar constitutes respective Hluttaws/Parliaments seated by People’s representatives/parliamentarians elected by our entire national populace. Under the leadership of people’s representatives, the country is making its concerted efforts to reach the state of multi-development, by exercising 3 panels of the national sovereignty—legislative, executive and judicial powers, with the systematic manipulation, with a view to bringing about the eternal peace of the country through the national unity.
Every citizen must be loyal to their nation and the national people. Instead, if they are disloyal to the country, it is tantamount to betrayal of the people. Had a person been disloyal to the country he might have a tendency to make a revolt to his country. In case he will make an attempt to stage a revolt to the country, he will surely be sued and punished under the case of High Treason. Here, let me share a brief account of knowledge on high treason.

Meaning of high treason
In section 121 [1] of the Penal Code, the meaning of high treason is defined as follows:
Whoever wages war against the Union of Myanmar or any constituent unit thereof, or
assists any State or a person or incites or conspires with any person within or without the Union to wage war against the Union or any constituent unit thereof, or attempts or otherwise prepares by force of arms of other violent means to overthrow the organs of the Union or of its constituent units established by the Constitution, or takes part or is concerned in or incites or conspires with any person within or without the Union to make or to take part or be concerned in any such attempt shall be guilty of the offence of High Treason.
In studying the prescriptions of the section, 4 particulars can be found but the first three can be categorized into one group and the last one into another, thus mainly into two groups.

Penalty for the offence
Concerning penalty to be punished over the person who commits the offence of High Treason, it is strictly prescribed as follows:

122 (1) Whoever commits High Treason within the Union of Myanmar shall be punished with death or transportation for life/20 years of imprisonment.
122 (2) Whoever, being a citizen of the Union of Myanmar or ordinarily resident within the Union, commits High Treason outside the Union shall be punished with death or 20 years of imprisonment.

Tracing the background history
To make offence of waging a war, inciting or conspiring against the Union, or any constituent more convinced, here is the section 121 of 1860 Indian Penal Code under the title of “Waging or attempting to wage or abetting waging of war, against the Government of India.”
Whoever wages war against the [Government of India], or attempts to wage such war, or abets the waging of such war, shall be punished with death, or [imprisonment of life] [and shall also be liable to fine.]
The prescription under section 121, detailed explanation has been given.
[A] Concerning waging wars there include kind of waging a war in the nation or advancement of forces from an alien country as well as the ones outside the country.
[B] Concerning the validity of the offence, there is no restriction about numbers of those involved in the attempt. Attempts are valid regardless of arms and ammunitions, outfits, drums and fife band, flags or leading ones.
According to the prescription of the initially enacted penal code, it is found that those who just made only conspires cannot be punished, apart from those who conspired and abetted. Accordingly, for making punishment of those involved in attempted offences valid the following message had been included in the Indian Penal Code Amendment Act [27 0f 1870] saying “Anyone who committed or conspired or abetted or attempted the offences punishable under section 121 of the penal code in or outside India territory is required to be sentenced to death or life imprisonment.

Enactment of special law
After gaining Myanmar’s Independence, it was found that High Treason Act, 1948 [ Act no/14, 1948] was enacted. With the explanations of the offences of high treason, the act had been promulgated as it was of great need for the enactment of penalties for those who committed, abetted or conspired concerning the offences.

1. The act shall be known as Act on High Treason.
2. Whoever wages war against the Union of Myanmar or any constituent unit thereof, or any State or a person or incites or conspires with any person within or without the Union to wage war against the Union or any constituent unit thereof, or attempts or otherwise prepares by force of arms of other violent means to overthrow the organs of the Union or of its constituent units established by the Constitution, or takes part or is concerned in or incites or conspires with any person within or without the Union to make or to take part or be concerned in any such attempt shall be guilty of the offence of High Treason.
3. [1] Whoever commits High Treason within the Union of Myanmar shall be punished with death sentence.
[2] Whoever, being a citizen of the Union of Myanmar or ordinarily resident within the Union, commits High Treason outside the Union shall be punished with death sentence.

Inclusion of high treason act into the penal code
Though the high treason act, 1948 was separately enacted under act 14 of 1948, it was re-included in the Penal Code under act 20 of 1950. In brief, evidently enough, it is valid as the offence of high treason even if anyone made conspires to disintegrate the Union or any parts of the Union.
As the emergence of such a law is of great importance for the country throughout the history, it had been enacted since time many years ago.
Anyone who commits the offence must be severely punished. Even a hint of such an intention to do so should not be conceived in our minds, and it is of great vitality for us to abide by rules and to be loyal to the country.
May all the citizens contribute our physical and mental labors for the nation and the entire populace, being loyal to our mother land.

Translated by Khin Maung Oo

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