YANGON – The Arakan Youth Organisation (AYO) and the Myanmar National Network (MNN) staged a demonstration in Yangon today to protest the parliament’s decision to allow white card holders to vote in the upcoming constitutional referendum. The protesters marched from the Bronze Pagoda in Bahan Township to a post that was erected specifically for people to express their grievances to the government in Tamwe Township. “Allowing white card holders to vote is like grabbing the rights of ethnic minorities and citizens. We reviewed that the Union parliament’s decision to allow white card holders to vote, and we found it to be a dishonest act,” said Naung Taw Lay from MNN yesterday. The White Card Holders Cancelling Committee (WCC) was established on February 4 by delegates from Rakhine civic organisations based in Yangon. The WCC planned to stage a 7-day protest against white card voters starting on February 8. However, the protest was postponed after the President’s Office met with the group to discuss the issue of white card voters on February 10.
Five delegates from WCC also met the Religious Affairs Minister on February 10. The minister urged the WCC delegates to postpone the protest until February 15, according to WCC member Sayadaw U Parmaukkha. “The minister told us that he would carry on doing his best in accordance with the law. He said the protest should be postponed for five days. We consulted the committee members, and they agreed to postpone the protest,” said Sayadaw U Parmaukkha. “Today’s protest organised by AYO and MNN did not involve the WCC. The protestors had to protest according to their feelings. If results are not achieved, we will stage our protest to protect the citizens and the country after February 15,” the Sayadaw added. The WCC was formed by six monks with the Ovada Sariya Sayadaw rank, 10 monks with the Nayaka Sayadaw rank and 20 laypersons. The Union parliament decided to allow white card holders, most of whom are Muslims living in Rakhine State, to vote in the upcoming national referendum on charter change at the request of President Thein Sein on February 2.ELEVEN MEDIA