Tag Archives: Burma
International Bar Association/South Korea: Sessions on persecution of lawyers, Annual Conference, September 22-27, 2019
July 4, 2019
The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) today announces the release of a report on a trial observation conducted in Myanmar into the proceedings taken against four accused charged with the murder of U Ko Ni, a prominent lawyer. The IBAHRI welcomes the concern evidenced by Government of Myanmar officials regarding the need to respond vigorously to the murder of the leading human rights lawyer. However, as the observers who attended the trial from 16 June 2017 to 15 February 2019 noted many instances where basic rights for those accused were not respected, the IBAHRI emphasises that it is vital to uphold essential human rights in the criminal process taken against those accused.
The report, The murder of U Ko Ni: IBAHRI trial observation highlights fair trial concerns in Myanmar, reveals the conduct of Myanmar’s authorities as having fallen significantly short of both international and domestic legal standards which safeguard the accused’s right to a fair trial. The report identifies a number of serious breaches of fundamental human rights, including: failure of police to follow legal procedures; continued detention of those accused of bailable offences; allegations of torture and ill-treatment during detention; intimidation of witnesses; denial of access to a lawyer during pre-trial detention; failure of the court to exclude evidence obtained unlawfully; obstruction of the defence’s access to evidence; failure to respond to threats against lawyers; inappropriate deference towards the testimonies of Buddhist monks; and imposition of the mandatory death penalty.
February 27, 2019
International lawyers want Burma to lift the death penalty imposed on the two men who murdered a human rights lawyer.
U Ko Ni — a former adviser to Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s state counsellor and de facto leader — was shot in broad daylight at Yangon International Airport in January 2017. Governments and human rights groups demanded that his killers be brought to justice and police quickly arrested two men, who were found guilty of Ni’s murder and sentenced to death.
Now the International Bar Association’s human rights institute has raised concerned that the death penalty announced by the Northern district court in Rangoon amounts to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, contrary to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention…
January 30, 2019
State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi urged authorities to find justice as soon as possible for prominent constitutional lawyer U Ko Ni and taxi driver Ko Ne Win, two years after they were gunned down in Yangon.
U Ko Ni, a legal adviser to the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD), was gunned down at pointblank range outside Yangon International Airport on Jan. 29, 2017. Ko Ne Win, a taxi driver at the scene, was killed by the same gunman while chasing after him.
The 63-year old lawyer was an expert on the military-drafted Constitution and came up with the idea of creating the position of state counselor to get around a clause in the charter effectively banning Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from the presidency. He advocated for changes to the Constitution that would strip the military of its undemocratic privileges; many believe those efforts led to his death.
In her message at a commemoration ceremony for the lawyer and driver in Yangon on Tuesday, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi praised them as ‘”role models who sacrificed their lives for truth and justice” and called their deaths “a big loss for Myanmar.”
“I would like to urge the concerned authorities to find speedy justice for Saya U Ko Ni and Ko Ne Win, who both sacrificed their lives to help fight the challenges to promoting the rule of law and justice in Myanmar,” she said.
To date, 72 prosecution witnesses and 40 defense witnesses have appeared in court over the course of 101 hearings in the trail of U Ko Ni’s accused assassins — gunman Kyi Lin and alleged conspirators Zeya Phyo, Aung Win Zaw and Aung Will Tun. A verdict is expected after the defense makes its closing argument on Friday, prosecution lawyer U Nay La told The Irrawaddy.
January 29, 2019
A Yangon court will soon deliver judgment against four men on trial over the killing of NLD legal adviser U Ko Ni, while the alleged mastermind remains at large.
TWO YEARS after the brazen assassination of prominent lawyer U Ko Ni at Yangon International Airport, the failure of the Myanmar Police Force to arrest the alleged mastermind continues to attract public criticism.
Final arguments by lawyers representing the four men arrested over the killing are due to be presented in Yangon Northern District Court on February 1, almost two years after the hearings began in March 2017.
Ko Ni was a constitutional expert, legal adviser to the National League of Democracy and prominent Muslim public figure. He has been credited with masterminding the state counsellor position for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, which allowed her to assume high office in the face of the military-drafted 2008 Constitution, whose provisions barred her from the presidency.
Ko Ni was shot dead while cradling his grandson outside the airport late on the afternoon of January 29, 2017. He had just returned from Indonesia where he had participated in a leadership programme on democracy and conflict resolution as part of a delegation headed by the Minister for Information U Pe Myint.
The suspected mastermind of the assassination, U Aung Win Khine, 47, who faces a charge of premeditated murder, has been declared a fugitive from justice by the court. He is the subject of an Interpol “red notice” issued at the request of the Myanmar police.
The suspected gunman, U Kyi Lin, was arrested almost immediately after the killing. He is also accused of fatally shooting a taxi driver while trying to flee the airport. He has been charged with premeditated murder and the illegal possession and transport of firearms.
January 21, 2019
Yangon Northern District Court has set February 1 for final arguments by defence lawyers in the long-running trial of four people accused over the killing of lawyer and constitutional expert U Ko Ni two years ago.
The final arguments will follow testimony from the defendants’ witnesses.
Ko Ni, a legal adviser to the National League for Democracy, was shot dead outside Yangon International Airport on January 29, 2017.
The court had scheduled defence witness Police Colonel Win Min Thein, who is involved in airport security, to testify on January 18 about an alleged meeting with suspected co-conspirator in the killing, Aung Win Zaw, and accused mastermind Aung Win Khine, at about the time Ko Ni was shot.
However, Win Min Thein, who failed to appear for a second time on January 18, told the court by letter that he did not want to testify because he did not know everything about the case. The court then decided to have Win Min Thein removed from the list of defence witnesses, despite objections from Aung Win Zaw’s lawyer, U Aung Khine.
Aung Khine told the court on January 18 that Win Min Thein was a key witness for the defendant and removing him as a witness would harm the defence case. Aung Win Zaw has testified that he went to the airport on January 29, 2017, to meet Win Min Thein. “He [Win Min Thein] can explain why Aung Win Zaw came to the airport,” Aung Khine said. “But I can’t urge him to testify for the defendant.”
January 11, 2019
A number of key witnesses surrounding the assassination of National League for Democracy’s legal advisor U Ko Ni are yet to testify in court despite the 100th hearing having taken place on Friday.
The 63-year-old lawyer was gunned down at Yangon International Airport two years ago this month. So far, four suspects—Kyi Lin, Aung Win Zaw, Aung Win Tun and Zeya Phyo—have been arrested and brought to trial though Aung Win Khaing, believed to be the mastermind behind the conspiracy, remains at large. He was last seen in Naypyitawin February 2017.
Since the beginning of the trial in March 2017, almost all witnesses for the plaintiff have testified in court. Despite witnesses for the defendant beginning their testimonies in July 2018, some key witnesses are yet to testify—including the police colonel who was chief of airport security at the time U Ko Ni was gunned down. Another is the wife of the accused Zeya Phyo.
Police Col. Win Min Thein, deputy chief of the Yangon Police Force, has yet to appear in court despite being summoned three times, each time giving the excuse that he is too busy to attend court. One of the accused, Aung Win Zaw, revealed in his testimony last year that he and his brother, Aung Win Khaing, had met with the police colonel for “some business” shortly before the lawyer’s assassination on Jan. 29, 2017.
In Friday’s hearing, another three witnesses submitted by Zeya Phyo didn’t appear in court, causing the judge to remove their names from the witness list. If the remaining major witnesses, including Win Min Thein, fail to show up for hearings in the coming weeks, they are also likely to be dropped from the list.
December 13, 2018
October 12, 2018
The Myanmar authorities must immediately and unconditionally release human rights lawyer Khin Khin Kyaw, who has been convicted of “contempt of court” and sentenced to six months in prison in connection with her role as a defense lawyer, said Amnesty International today. The conviction and imprisonment mark yet another blow for rule of law in Myanmar and sends a worrying message to human rights defenders across the country.
View report in English
September 17, 2018
U Kyaw Hla Aung, 78, a lawyer and activist, remembers a time when there was no discrimination against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. Just weeks after winning the $1.1 million Aurora Prize, the Rohingya activist spoke by phone from his home in Sittwe, the capital of Myanmar’s Rakhine state — from which more than 700,000 of his countrymen fled in the past year amid brutal state violence.
Kyaw Hla Aung began his career in 1960, as a clerk at the state court in Sittwe. At the time, he says, Rohingya Muslims held high positions in government offices, police departments, and the army. There were Muslim teachers, doctors, judges, and lawyers.
“Starting from 1970s, discrimination has been increasing with every passing day,” said Kyaw Hla Aung. “Now, we cannot see a single Muslim staff in Rakhine state as well as in Central Myanmar.”
As a lawyer, Kyaw Hla Aung took his first case in 1986, when a group of Muslim farmers were arrested, and their land confiscated under state seizure laws. Kyaw Hla Aung wrote an appeal letter, protesting the draconian laws. In retaliation, he himself was arrested under a controversial colonial-era act used to quash dissent.
“The authorities wanted to confiscate agricultural lands [to] construct university buildings and charged me with obstructing the project,” he said.
In prison, Kyaw Hla Aung’s health declined rapidly. Arthritic and prone to gastric disorders, he suffered from the poor conditions in prison while defending his own case for the next two years. Meals consisted of rotting boiled vegetables in a damp and dark cell.
“Every adjournment day was exhausting because prisoners were ferried to court in a van, which held 50 to 60 at a time,” he said. “We were packed into cells with a capacity for 10 people. Toilets were in the same cell without any cover. I had to appear at the court for approximately 100 adjournments in two years.”
Kyaw Hla Aung was eventually released in 1988, and in the following year, with the support of his friends and colleagues, he established the National Democratic Party for Human Rights. His intention was to fight for equal rights for Rohingya, to restore their lost identity through legal means. While he was campaigning for office, a senior general ordered his arrest. The thought of a Rohingya in politics was unpalatable for many.