Burma Lawyers: State Protection Law 1975 not an anti-terrorist law
As US-led UN Secretary Council pushes its 189 members to adopt a new" broadest possible" counter-terrorist laws, Burma is still hanging on its 27-year-old State Protection Law to terrorize its people, charged a report by the Burma Lawyers Council, an exiled group based in Bangkok.
In its report issued in December, Peter Gutter and B.K. Sen of the BLC argued that the State Protection Law, promulgated by the "constitutional military government" in 1975, had only one purpose: "to ensure the perpetuation of military rule." Being "the main power base" of the military authorities, it is "indeed the broadest possible law in the world," it says.
Under this law, a Buddhist monk from Moulmein was sentenced to two years imprisonment in 1996 for distributing leaflets about Samma-sati (Right Mindfulness) without permission from the local authorities.
It stresses that unlike its predecessor Public Order Preservation Act, (POPA), the SPL that "can hardly be called a law" is "subject to writ remedy in the Supreme Court." The redeeming feature of POPA was that "at least there was a Constitution and a Supreme Court, and the legal remedies were available."
Nevertheless, since 11 September, Rangoon authorities have taken full advantage of the global war against terrorism in order to justify its existence, it says.
"(T)he first thing Jeremy Greenstock's (UN Security Council counter-terrorism) committee should do is to help stop terrorism committed by the state," urges the analysis, because as Bishop Teodoro Bacani of Philippines once put it, "the very means to fight terrorism are themselves the means to terrorize the citizenry."
The report calls for the complete abolishment of the law.
According to the SPL, the military can restrict "any fundamental right of any person suspected of having committed or believed to be about to commit any act which endangers the sovereignty and security of the state or public peace and tranquility."