Circular bans soldiers from joining protests

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 August, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 August, 2005, 12:00am

Beijing has issued a circular banning soldiers from taking part in petitions and demonstrations following a series of mass protests by disgruntled veterans.

The Central Military Commission circular threatens to penalise soldiers or expel them from the Communist Party if they take part in mass protests or petitions to authorities.

'Those who oppose the absolute leadership of the Communist Party over the army and take part in activities endangering the security of the state and the army will be expelled from the party,' the Liberation Army Daily quoted the circular as saying yesterday.

It added that soldiers would be 'severely penalised' for taking part in organisations not on an approved list or engaging in 'religious and superstitious' activities.

According to a commentary carried by the newspaper the circular is aimed at stepping up 'political discipline' in the People's Liberation Army.

'The supplement highlights and strengthens political discipline and outlines clear restrictions and penalties for breaches of conduct that take place easily or frequently,' the commentary said.

'Especially when the western hostile forces are accelerating their strategies to westernise and target us, as well as the increasing clout of all sorts of bad social influences, it has become more important to vigorously strengthen army discipline and strictly penalise breaches.'

The circular was issued following mass protests outside a PLA office in Beijing by veterans angry about pension benefits.

In a recent protest, hundreds of ex-servicemen protested outside an office of the PLA's General Political Department on the 78th anniversary of the founding of the PLA on August 1.

Another incident took place in April when thousands of veterans gathered at the same office.