Poets, cartoonists join campaign to overturn Article 436

Poets and cartoonists gather in Rangoon on 30 May 2014 to sign a petition to overturn Article 436 of the Burmese Constitution. (PHOTO: DVB)

A group of Burmese poets and cartoonists joined together in Rangoon on Friday to sign a petition to amend Article 436 of the Constitution, which stipulates that no provision of the 2008 charter can be altered without the prior approval of more than 75 percent of MPs in the Union Parliament.

Many critics of Burma’s Constitution – notable among them Aung San Suu Kyi of the main opposition party, National League for Democracy (NLD) – have prioritised the overturning of Article 436 as they say it gives the military full veto power over any other proposed changes, owing to the fact that they control 25 percent of the seats in both houses.

On Friday, some of the country’s best known poets signed the petition at The Last Leaf Gallery on Pansodan Street while cartoonists put pen to paper at the Capacity Development Center on 35th Street.

Renowned cartoonist Shwe Min Thar said, “Everything depends on the military. If they don’t change, we can’t do anything. But it is possible for them to change. The Constitution is written by human beings, so it is easily within our power to change it. All of us here want to amend it. If the government follows the will of the people, then they will change it. I think it all depends on them.”

Another well-known cartoonist, Aw Pi Kyal, said, “I know that this petition will not compel the government to amend the Constitution, but we are offering our opinion to the president.”

Similarly, in Mandalay, about 100 members of a former political prisoners’ network signed a petition to amend the Constitution on Friday. Poets and cartoonists in Mandalay had earlier in the week signed the petition at Mandalay’s main NLD office.

The petition was launched by the NLD and the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society civil society group this month as a 50-day campaign to collect signatures from people across the country, calling for the government to amend Article 436.

By PAING SOE (DVB)

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