- By Maung Sarga
With the emergence of “the Unlawful Association Act, 1908” the wording “unlawful associations,” came into existence in the sphere of Myanmar language. The Act is still valid in the country until now. Later after gaining Myanmar Independence, unlawful associations appeared in the nation, harming peace, stability and security of the country, being a hindrance for national solidarity and destroying rule of law. Accordingly, we need to ponder as to why these unlawful associations turned up in the country and what the unlawful association act prescribed. Here is the brief account of what I had studied about it.
Definition of the unlawful associations
“Unlawful Association,” means an association which encourages or aids persons to commit acts of violence intimidation or of which the members habitually commit such acts. [section 15(2)(A)]
These unlawful associations had been declared to be unlawful by the President of the Union under the powers hereby conferred. [section 15(2)(B) and section 16(1)]
Armed groups fighting against the government are unlawful associations under section 15(2)(A) or section 15(2)(B), in some way or other. Any armed insurgent groups are unlawful associations under section 15(2)(A), though not being declared.
Penalty to be punished
There are two kinds of penalties to be punished.
Whoever is a member of an unlawful association, or takes part in meetings of any such association, or contributes or receives or solicits any contribution for the purpose of any such association or in any way assists the operations of any such association, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term [which shall not be less than two years more than three years and shall also be liable to fine. [section 17(1)]
Whoever manages or assists in the management of an unlawful association, or promotes or assists in promoting a meeting of any such association, or of any members thereof as such members, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term [which shall not be less than three years and more than five years and shall also be liable to fine.] [section 17(2)]
Declaration as an unlawful association
Under the prescriptions of the unlawful association act, the government can designate an association as the unlawful association by issuing a declaration. In former times, these associations were declared to be unlawful associations.
Under notification 53 dated 23rd January 1947 issued by police forces [branch] under the Ministry of Home Affairs, Red Flag Communist Party [Burma] and Red Flag Farmer Union had been declared to be unlawful associations. After gaining Myanmar Independence, Karen National Defence Organization [KNDO] was declared as an unlawful association under notification 61 dated on 1st February 1949 of the Ministry of Home Affairs. Similarly, Burma Communist Party [White Flag Communist Party] was declared as an unlawful association under notification 757 dated 21st October 1953 by the police forces [branch], the Ministry of Home Affairs, with Peoples’ Comrade Party [PCP] under the notification 758.
In declaring the said associations to be unlawful ones, the declaration was made in accord with the prescription included in section 15(2), assuming that aims and objectives of those associations and their sub-groups, other groups connected to the sub-groups, committees and sub-committees of those sub-groups proved to be dangerous for rule of law in the nation, State law and order restoration, and peace and stability of the nation.
Cancellation from unlawful associations
The government can designate cancellation from the list of unlawful associations as including Myanmar National Democracy Alliance (MNDA) were cancelled from the list of unlawful associations with effect from the date when they returned to legal fold, under the notification 2/91 dated on 14th May 1991 of the Ministry of Home and Religious Affairs, the government of the Union of Myanmar.
Unlawful associations and political parties
A political party is not liable for its survival if it was declared as the unlawful association. And, it cannot stand as the political party any longer, provided that it was proved to have directly or indirectly connected or encouraged with armed insurgent groups fighting against the government or to have made terrorist events. Simultaneously, its registration as the political party is to be cancelled. [Section 407, 408 of the Constitution]
Had a person been found to have directly or indirectly connected with a member of the armed insurgent group fighting against the government or those regarded to have committed terrorist attacks or a member or members of an association declared as the unlawful associations, they neither have right to set up a political nor to have it registered as the political party. [Section 4(F) of Political Parties Law]
Unlawful associations and Hluttaw Representatives/Parliamentarians
Had a person been found together with solid evidence that they had connected with the associations declared unlawful ones under the existing laws, organizations and persons regarded to commit terrorist attacks and those who connected with armed insurgent groups fighting against the government, they have no right to be elected in any parliaments. [Section 10(D) of Hluttaw Election Law]
Provided that a parliamentarian who was convicted by a respective court of justice that he or she had connected with the associations or persons declared to be unlawful associations or those regarded to have committed terrorist attacks, or armed insurgent groups fighting against the government the said parliamentarian ceases to stand as the parliamentarian. [Section 11(J) of Hluttaw Election Law]
Had someone been found to have connected with an unlawful association, a legal action is to be taken against him. Concurrently, he will lose the right to set up a political party or to contest for a parliamentary seat in the election. And, the registration of a political party which connects with an unlawful association will be cancelled.
Freedom from involvement in unlawful associations
Now the entire populace is taking active participations in the implementation of the national peace and multi-development of the nation, hand in hand with the government, with unity and strength. The Union Government is striving vigorously for the achievement of peace, stability and rule of law in the nation. At the present time, we must take awareness to threats and efforts subversive elements, with a view to making riots which will destroy peace and stability of the nation. Furthermore, we must avoid ourselves from getting involved in their traps.
It must be noted in our minds that anyone who gets involved with the armed insurgent groups fighting against the government, a person or persons or those who connected with them threatening to harm rule of law in the nation and national security, peace and stability are to be punished.
May we safeguard our nation from dangers of those threatening national peace and stability, and rule of law!
May we live in safety under the protection of the law, by abiding by the laws!
Translated by Khin Maung Oo