More than 500 civil society organizations (CSOs) will send letters to the Lower House Parliament and embassies to protest against the Association Law bill for imposing restrictions on CSOs.
Ayer Maung Maung, Administrator of the Free Funeral Service Society (FFSS) said, “If they have to enact this law, all NGOs and charity organizations would like to take positions on the bill.”
More than 500 CSOs issued 22 position statements on the bill on September 8 which states that the bill should include statutes to help the CSOs rather than impose restrictions on them.
Section 15 of the bill stipulates that, “No one shall be a member or volunteer in any unrecognized and unregistered associations.”
The penalty for violation of this section is up to six months imprisonment and/or a maximum fine of MMK 100000 (USD 100 approx.).
Myo Myint from the FFSS in Irrawaddy Region said, “After the bill was published in the daily paper on August 27, many volunteers have stopped coming to us. I am worried that such restrictions in the bill will discourage many youth from volunteering in the future. Even now the number of volunteers coming to our charity have decreased significantly.”
Zaw Than from the FFSS, Mandalay commented, “I think such special laws are not required for charity organizations.”
The Association Law bill also stipulates that CSOs are required to deposit registration fees of MMK 500000 (USD 500 approx.).
The CSOs said that most of them cannot afford registration fees and mandatory rules, such as registration of associations should be excluded from the bill.
More than 500 FFSS branches met in Yangon on September 1 to discuss the bill. Thereafter, each branch held discussion meetings with the local members on September 5 and issued their position statements on September 8.
The FFSS provides free funeral service, education, health care and monastic education.