05/16/2019 Myanmar (International Christian Concern) – On May 5, hundreds of people joined a pro-military rally in front of the city hall in Yangon, to protest the government’s efforts to amend the 2008 constitution, which affords the generals vast powers.
The leader of the rally, radical Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu, is often referred to as the ‘Burmese Bin Laden.’ He has always allied himself with the military, while heavily criticizing State Counsellor Aung SanSuu Kyi and the civil government she leads.
“Nowadays, military lawmakers sit in a parliament, but they don’t get salaries as a lawmaker. They only get the salaries of soldiers. They protect the country while taking only a soldier’s salary, so they should be worshipped like God,” Wirathu said at the rally in a video made by local media Khinthitnews and posted on Facebook.
He added, “But people now hate them like enemies. Under those circumstances, it’s not possible to amend the constitution.” Wirathu opposed any change to Myanmar’s military drafted constitution, in order to prevent the country’s de facto political leader, Aung SanSuu Kyi, from ever becoming the nation’s president given her marriage with a British man.
In January, the Burmese Parliament approved the establishment of a 45-member committee led by Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) tasked with mapping out constitutional reforms.
Pro-democracy campaigners is eyeing to change a provision that grants military MPs the power to veto any proposed charter changes, notably any amendments that would curb their political power.
The 2008 charter, drafted during military rule, mandates that a quarter of seats be reserved for the military. Any change to the charter needs a vote of more than 75 percent of members, giving the army an effective veto. It also gives them control of key portfolios such as home affairs, national defense and border security.
Myanmar’s military has a notorious human rights record, especially towards the country’s minority ethnic groups – Christian-majority Kachin and Chin groups, Muslim-majority Rohingyas alike, all suffer under the brutal attacks launched by the army.