BURMA – POLITICS: The military hunt for NGOs is relentless

A column by François Guilbert

Civil society organizations and international non-governmental organizations learned of the new registration obligations through the press this week, without departing from its autocratic political-administrative practices. Although the text has been in inter-ministerial discussions for months, none of the supervisory ministries (eg Social Affairs, Health, etc.) have seen fit to consult anyone beforehand or to explain the proponents of the current rules. When they arrive, the leaders of the association are worried. They are concerned about the future of their movement and even for some, whether they will be able to continue their activities. The military regime, which sees only systematic opponents outside its state apparatus, wishes to disrupt this stability. For him, it’s about silencing any opposition that might emerge, rooting out the financial and human resources that underlie what is in place and disrupt the good timing of the general elections the generals want in 2023.

Nearly twenty pages of text recently approved by the State Administration Council (SAC) and released to the public by newspapers reveal a desire to monitor the actions of non-government entities on a daily basis. national or foreign.

Any denial of registration will also not be subject to appeal. The decision will be both final and applicable anywhere in the territory. In such circumstances, non-governmental operators enter a period of great administrative uncertainty. They will have to manage yet another restriction, especially as they struggle to function daily for months, especially since they cannot access their bank accounts and receive refunds from their donors.

All administratively recognized non-governmental entities must re-register in order to continue to operate legally. A demonstration that will help you rule out the most confused and notorious opponents. As for others, they have until December 27, 2022 to comply with the law.

By the way, the ruthless bureaucracy increased the registration fees to 5. It has also made approval procedures more complex, not to mention slower and more difficult. After that, it is necessary to get the approval of the new administrations, especially the very conservative Ministry of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations and the Ministry of Migration and Manpower, to work at the national or local level. . It is also necessary to report quarterly to the General Affairs Department (GAD), in other words, to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, whose portfolio holder is a soldier according to the constitution.

It is therefore clear that in social and humanitarian matters, as in many other administrative areas, General Min Aung Hlaing’s junta is methodically working to corset society while fairly methodically deconstructing the opening efforts by General Thein’s military regime. Sein was in power from 2010 to 2016 before Aung San Suu Kyi came to power.

The text adopted these days does not actually replace a legislative document drafted by the forcibly overthrown civilian government, but a legislative document drafted by its predecessor drafted on behalf of the Tatmadaw leaders and approved by the elected parliament (Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, law no. 31/). 2014). Today’s Generalissimo has never stopped since he was empowered to judge proposals that were decided by his peers a decade ago. In this sense, WAC is fundamentally a “revisionist” regime. New ” Organization Registration Act » Replacing the regime established in 2014, thus establishing the submission of quarterly performance reports to the cantonal authorities, 40% of citizens are good in all respects in the association’s boards of directors and will require foreign countries to be dubbed by the Ministry of Business. It belongs to international NGOs. Failure to comply with the registration regime will be subject to severe criminal penalties, as has been the case with many organizations for years or even decades. They can be imprisoned for up to 5 years. It will also be liable to legal proceedings for any actions that may be prosecuted in relation to insurgent or illegal groups suspected of supporting political or religious movements. The junta-controlled authorities now have a “legal” basis for arresting and prosecuting any employee of any organization without registration. Working or being associated with an unregistered organization can also result in a 2-year prison sentence. It will be impossible to operate in areas now under the control of ethnic armed groups, unless they are signatories to the National Ceasefire Agreement (NAC).

Not only will humanitarian actors not see their actions scrutinized, but their ability to act will be severely hampered, especially where the most vulnerable populations are. However, in 2023, there will be more of them than ever. United Nations agencies estimate that 500,000 additional people will require food assistance at this time. In a few months, 15.7 million people in Burma will be severely and moderately malnourished.

Francois Guilbert

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