Tag Archives: Burma

Burma/Myanmar: Justice denied as regime targets activists’ lawyers

30/08/22

A vindictive junta is further undermining rule of law by cracking down on lawyers who represent victims of political persecution. Some of them now face the prospect of lengthy prison terms just for doing their jobs.

Yangon lawyer Ko Tun Tun Win* never thought he’d be at risk of arrest because of his career, but that changed after the coup when he began taking on pro bono work for arrested activists.

“I only know how to be a lawyer, that’s why I chose to work for free on behalf of detained activists,” said Tun Tun Win, who is in his mid-30s and has been practising for 15 years. “I’ve been successful in my career and my parents are proud of my work as a lawyer,” he told Frontier on August 11.  

The relentless persecution of activists and ordinary citizens who oppose the coup has coincided with a stream of arrests of the people who try to defend them in what passes for a legal system under the junta.

Lawyers such as Tun Tun Win now live in fear of being arrested by the military at all times.

“My family and I feel insecure. I have to be prepared to be arrested by the military,” he said. “Sometimes I see police trucks near my home and I think they are coming to arrest me.”

The arrests of lawyers began in April 2021, just two months after the coup, generally targeting those defending protest leaders or members of the ousted National League for Democracy government.

“The military made these arrests on purpose. They want to create fear among lawyers who are defending political prisoners,” said Mandalay-based lawyer Ko Myint Tun*.

Lawyers defending detained activists and politicians are usually charged with incitement under section 505A of the Penal Code, for which the maximum penalty is three years’ imprisonment. The charge has emerged as the junta’s preferred catch-all form of legal persecution since the coup. Radio Free Asia reported that 27 lawyers have been detained since the coup, including some of the nation’s best-known lawyers, some of whom are facing even more serious charges.

[…]

https://www.frontiermyanmar.net/en/justice-denied-as-regime-targets-activists-lawyers/

https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2022/08/un-expert-calls-action-against-myanmar-military-anniversary-atrocities

Burma: As junta squeezes courts, Myanmar’s lawyers are forced to face their worst fears

19/08/22

Even as they face threats to their own safety and freedom, some lawyers remain committed to representing political prisoners

Mei Aye, a lawyer who visits Yangon’s Insein Prison at least twice a week for court appearances, has a ritual that she follows on the days that she has to pass through the gates of Myanmar’s most notorious detention centre.

The first thing she does is tell someone she trusts about her unfinished business. And then she makes a point of saying goodbye to all her loved ones, mindful of the fact that she might not see them again for a very long time.

She says she does this as a way of dealing with the crippling anxiety she often feels about the perils of her job defending political prisoners. This is because she knows all too well how easily she, too, could end up behind bars.

“I have to do these things in case I don’t get to come home from work one day. I never know when I will be taken away to an interrogation centre,” she explains.

As a defence attorney with 10 years of experience, Mei Aye is no stranger to prisons, which she says hold no real terror for her. But interrogation centres are another matter—she has seen too many of her clients after they have emerged from them not to live in fear of what happens behind their closed doors.

I never know when I will be taken away to an interrogation centre

Many are badly bruised or scarred, she says, and some even have open wounds that testify to the brutality of the regime’s techniques for extracting information.

“I’m not a doctor, so I can’t really say how serious their injuries were. But I could see that they had been really severely beaten. And I am afraid of having to face the same fate,” she says.

Currently working on 28 political cases, Mei Aye deals with clients facing charges that range from incitement to terrorism and possession of explosive devices. In the eyes of Myanmar’s military, that makes her an object of suspicion, too.

[…]

https://www.myanmar-now.org/en/news/as-junta-squeezes-courts-myanmars-lawyers-are-forced-to-face-their-worst-fears

https://myanmar-now.org/en/news/military-bombs-civilian-area-in-karenni-states-demoso-township-killing-three-people

https://thediplomat.com/2022/07/international-court-of-justice-rejects-myanmar-claims-will-hear-rohingya-genocide-case/

Burma: Myanmar Junta has Arrested Over 40 Lawyers Defending Political Detainees

11/07/22

Myanmar’s military regime has arrested at least 10 more lawyers in the last two weeks who are defending prominent National League for Democracy (NLD) figures and anti-regime protestors, bringing the total number of lawyers detained since last year’s coup to at least 42.

In the most recent case, lawyers Ko Soe Tun Tun Zaw and Ma Aye Mya Yupar from the Tun Law firm in Mandalay were arrested at their office on July 9.

“Their office is opposite Chanayethazan Township court. They were taken from there in private cars,” a fellow Mandalay advocate, who requested anonymity for security reasons, told The Irrawaddy.

He added that the whereabouts of the duo and reason for their arrest remain unknown.

Their detention came just a few days after two other lawyers from Mandalay, Aung Min Thu and Daw Than Than Lwin, were arrested at their homes on July 2.

“They [arrested lawyers] are representing political detainees. I don’t know exactly why they were arrested. Currently, they [regime forces] are targeting lawyers who represent political detainees”, said the Mandalay advocate.

“Lawyers are being arrested continuously, so I have to be very cautious for my own safety,” he added.

On June 29, lawyer Tin Win Aung, who is acting for ousted Mandalay Chief Minister and NLD vice chairman Dr. Zaw Myint Maung in his trial for alleged corruption, his wife and fellow lawyer Thae Su Naing and lawyer Thuta, who represent anti-regime protestors, were arrested leaving Mandalay’s Obo Prison. Their whereabouts remain unknown.

In April, lawyer Ywat Nu Aung, who also represented Dr. Zaw Myint Maung, was also arrested outside Obo Prison.

[…]

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/myanmar/three-lawyers-assisting-political-cases-arrested-in-mandalay-07012022055531.html

https://www.myanmar-now.org/en/news/junta-files-terrorism-charges-against-three-detained-journalists-lawyers

https://www.ohchr.org/en/statements/2022/06/50th-session-human-rights-council-oral-update-myanmar

Burma: Military detains three more lawyers representing junta opponents in Mandalay 

01/07/22

Junta authorities arrested three more Mandalay-based lawyers representing political detainees on Wednesday as they returned home from court hearings inside the city’s prison, according to sources within the local legal network.

The detainees—identified as Tin Win Aung, his wife Thae Su Naing, and Thuta—were reportedly leaving Obo Prison after attending hearings for their clients within the closed court there. 

Three of their local colleagues spoke to Myanmar Now on the condition of anonymity and confirmed their arrests to Myanmar Now. At the time of reporting it was not known where they were being held in junta custody or why they had been specifically targeted.

“We still don’t know the details of their arrests. I only heard that Thuta’s vehicle was also seized,” one of the lawyers said. 

Following the February 2021 military coup, lawyers representing jailed activists and political opponents of the military have also faced threats to their personal security for challenging the practice of arbitrary detentions in a junta-controlled judiciary. 

While the number of lawyers detained across the country is unknown, attorneys in Mandalay said that at least 10 of their colleagues had been arrested since the coup and dozens more are wanted by the military authorities.

[…]

https://www.myanmar-now.org/en/news/military-detains-three-more-lawyers-representing-junta-opponents-in-mandalay

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/myanmar/three-lawyers-assisting-political-cases-arrested-in-mandalay-07012022055531.html

https://www.frontiermyanmar.net/en/the-struggle-to-bring-justice-to-myanmar/

Burma: Myanmar dispatch: female lawyer takes her own life after family members taken hostage by junta troops looking for her

13/06/22

Myanmar law students are reporting for JURIST on challenges to the rule of law in their country under the military junta that deposed the civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2021. Here, one of our correspondents reports the suicide of a young Myanmar pro-democracy lawyer whose brother and sisters were taken hostage after junta agents came looking for her. The text has only been lightly edited to respect the author’s voice.

Myanmar lawyer Daw Phyu Phyu Khaing (age-29) took her own life Sunday after military junta troops arbitrarily abducted her family members and held them as hostages.

According to a neighbour, a group of junta armed forces raided her home in Ohn Chaw Village, Patheingyi Township, at 1 pm on 8th June. The military initially intended to arbitrarily arrest her based on reports from their on-ground informants who said that she was actively involved in protest groups in which lawyers protest against the military junta and that she financially supported People’s Defence Force (PDF) members. However, when they found out she had already fled away, the junta severely tortured her family members who remained at home. Junta agents subsequently abducted a total of three of her family members – her brother and her two sisters – to hold them hostage instead of her. According to informants, her siblings were sent to the interrogation centre inside the Mandalay Royal Palace compound where the junta military has a base.

Even after four days of their detention [yesterday, 12th June], there was no further news about her family members. On that day, Phyu Phyu Khaing tried to take her own life by taking pesticides. A neighbour saw the scene and tried to save her, but due to lack of adequate medical support in the area where she was, she passed away, according to the Mandalay Free Press (MFP). 

[…]

https://www.jurist.org/news/2022/06/myanmar-dispatch-female-lawyer-takes-her-own-life-after-family-members-taken-hostage-by-junta-troops-who-were-looking-for-her/

https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/06/07/myanmar-junta-vows-enforce-death-sentences

https://myanmar-now.org/en/news/lawyer-facing-life-sentence-on-terror-charges-sent-to-obo-prison

Burma: Military junta court sentences Myanmar law student to 20 years imprisonment

03/06/22

Myanmar law students are reporting for JURIST on challenges to the rule of law in their country under the military junta that deposed the civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2021. Here, one of our correspondents reports on a junta court’s conviction of a Magway University law student to 20 years imprisonment. The text has only been lightly edited to respect the author’s voice.

On 2nd June, the Magway University Student Union (MGUSU) confirmed the news that Ko Hein Zay Ya, a third year law student in western Myanmar’s Magway University, was sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment at a trial held on 31st May. Details of the charges laid against him are not yet available.

Since the beginning of the military coup in February 2021, many Myanmar university students have become targets of the military junta for carrying out protests all over the country and standing with the Myanmar public in boycotting the military.

Magway University Interim Administrative Council announced on 20 March that they could confirm news that detained students and lecturers of Magway University were being severely tortured in various ways. According to secret letters sent by the detainees, junta authorities sometimes make them eat the rice mixed with dirt/dust, do not provide enough water and restrict them to take a bath only once a week. Also, juntas force them to walk around with naked feet under the burning sun when the daily temperature is around 95°F in Magway Division during daytime.

Despite being in critical conditions of mental and physical health, the severely injured detainees are not allowed to receive any medical treatment in the prison till now. Therefore, the Interim Council urged for help for the detainees who are suffering both physically and mentally.

In October, junta authorities released Mandalay University law student Theint Sandi Soe and her mother from detention after convicting them to 3-year prison terms in July. They had been detained when junta authorities could not find Theint’s father, a well-known anti-junta activist.

https://www.jurist.org/news/2022/06/myanmar-dispatch-myanmar-law-student-sentenced-to-20-years-imprisonment/

https://elevenmyanmar.com/news/advocate-ywat-nu-aung-charged-with-counter-terrorism-law

https://www.myanmar-now.org/en/news/lawyer-facing-life-sentence-on-terror-charges-sent-to-obo-prison

https://www.mizzima.com/article/myanmar-junta-arrests-lawyer-defending-former-mandalay-chief-minister-source

Burma/Myanmar: NLD Lawyer Goes Missing Amid Pro-Regime Militia Attacks

28/04/22

A prominent lawyer from the ousted National League for Democracy (NLD) Party went missing on Wednesday in Mandalay. It is feared that Daw Ywat Nu Aung has either been arrested by the military regime or kidnapped by a pro-junta group responsible for the recent murders of NLD supporters in Mandalay.

She is part of the legal team acting for ousted Mandalay Chief Minister and NLD vice chairman Dr. Zaw Myint Maung, who is currently on trial in Mandalay’s Obo Prison for alleged corruption.

One of Daw Ywat Nu Aung’s colleagues said she last saw the lawyer on Wednesday, just before she left Dr. Zaw Myint Maung’s trial at the prison.

“I met her just before she left [the prison]. If she was arrested, it could be around 3:30 or 4pm,” said the colleague.

As of Thursday afternoon, the lawyer’s fate is still unknown.

Many suspect that Daw Ywat Nu Aung may have been arrested by the regime because she is defending a high-profile NLD figure.

However, her disappearance comes at a time when Mandalay has been rocked by the extrajudicial killings of NLD members by the Thwe Thout Group, a pro-regime militia. The group has vowed to respond to an anti-junta force’s pledge to attack regime supporters, security forces and their family members.

[…]

https://www.notimerica.com/politica/noticia-birmania-denuncian-desaparicion-influyente-abogada-birmana-ataques-milicias-vinculadas-junta-20220428125154.html (ESPANOL)

https://patrick-henry.avocats.be/?q=node/576 (FRANCAIS)

Burma/Myanmar: Land rights lawyer who challenged military brutally beaten in front of family then abducted

19/04/22

Si Thu’s loved ones have not heard from him for 11 days and don’t know where he is being held 

A Mandalay-based lawyer known for helping farmers in land disputes with the military was “brutally” beaten by soldiers in front of his wife and children before being taken away earlier this month, a friend of his has said. 

Five vehicles full of junta troops arrived at the Chanayetharzan Township home of Si Thu, 40, on April 8 to abduct him. He has not been seen or heard from since and the military has not told the family where he is being held. 

“He was beaten brutally in front of his family,” said the friend, who is also a lawyer and asked not to be named. “They only stopped beating him when the wife and the children started begging the soldiers.”

From 2019 Si Thu worked pro bono on the case of a group of residents who were opposing the construction of a cement factory in the village of Aung Tha Pyay. Police shot a man in the leg during a 2020 raid targeting those protesting the factory. 

The lawyer also represented farmers in Pyin Oo Lwin who tried to prevent the military from seizing their land in late 2020.

At least 20 people were arrested in Mandalay last week for their opposition to the military, according to local sources. 

Three young anti-coup activists from the city, including a protest leader named Thura Aung, have been held in junta custody since January. Activists from the Mandalay Strike Committee say they are worried for the detainees’ lives.

https://myanmar-now.org/en/news/land-rights-lawyer-who-challenged-military-brutally-beaten-in-front-of-family-then-abducted

https://www.myanmar-now.org/en/news/ko-ni-lawyers-begin-last-ditch-effort-to-get-harsher-sentences-for-men-involved-in-his-murder

Burma: Police Officer in Charge for NLD Lawyer’s Killing Left Unpunished and Promoted

31/01/22

Ko Ni — Wikipédia

Five years after prominent lawyer U Ko Ni, the legal advisor to the National League for Democracy Party, was shot dead in broad daylight at Yangon International Airport, the mastermind behind his killing – Aung Win Khaing – is still at large.

At the same time, the police officer who was responsible for Yangon Airport’s security at the time of U Ko Ni’s assassination has been rapidly promoted over the past five years, despite the fact that he is a former classmate of the main culprits in the killing of the lawyer.

Win Min Thein was a police colonel when U Ko Ni was assassinated, but has since been promoted to police brigadier-general and appointed the head of the No. 2 Security Police Force, a rank higher than that of the chief of the Yangon Police.

Such a rapid promotion is rare in the history of Myanmar’s Police Force, said a retired police colonel.

Win Min Thein was a member of the 36th class at the Defence Services Academy, where he was the classmate of Aung Win Khaing and Zeya Phyo, the main culprits in the assassination of U Ko Ni.

[…]

https://www.myanmar-now.org/en/news/ko-ni-lawyers-begin-last-ditch-effort-to-get-harsher-sentences-for-men-involved-in-his-murder

https://www.myanmar-now.org/en/news/lawyers-barred-from-questioning-man-who-shot-ko-ni

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ko_Ni

https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/01/28/myanmar-year-brutality-coups-wake

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ko_Ni (FRANCAIS)

Burma: Four Mandalay lawyers detained for days in undisclosed location

24/12/21

A lawyer wearing a red ribbon sign participates in the Civil Disobedience Movement against the military coup in Yangon on February 8 (Myanmar Now)

The attorneys had been providing legal assistance to defendants in politically motivated cases put forward by the junta

Four lawyers from Mandalay who had been working on the defence teams for politically motivated cases put forward by the junta have been held in an unidentified location for days since their December 19 arrest by the military authorities, according to members of their legal networks.

The families of the attorneys have not been able to confirm their whereabouts since they were taken into junta custody. 

They were abducted from the office of Shwe Alin Legal Services near the No. 3 police station in Chanmyathazi Township, according to a Mandalay-based lawyer who spoke to Myanmar Now on the condition of anonymity. 

“They haven’t been transferred to Obo prison yet,” the lawyer said, referring to a major prison in the region. “We were told that they were still at the interrogation centre. No case has been filed against them either.”

Legal sources did not want to name three of the detained lawyers, but confirmed that one is Lwin Lwin Mar, who had been helping individuals charged with incitement since the February 1 coup. All four of the lawyers are women. 

[… ]

https://www.myanmar-now.org/en/news/four-mandalay-lawyers-detained-for-days-in-undisclosed-location