20 January 2009
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has been collecting and documenting cases of illegal arrest and imprisonment of persons accused over the September 2007 protests in Burma. In this appeal we give the details of another 14 persons who in November were convicted without evidence on a variety of offences.
The 14 people convicted in this latest case documented by the AHRC arising from the massive anti-government protests in Burma during 2007 are alleged to have committed acts that threatened the lives and safety of government servants.
Please write to the persons listed below to call for the charges against the 14 persons to be reviewed and for them to be released without delay. Please note that for the purpose of the letter, the country should be referred to by its official title of Myanmar, rather than Burma.
Please be informed that the AHRC is writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteurs on Myanmar and independence of judges and lawyers as well as the UN Special Representative on human rights defenders, the UN Working Group on arbitrary detention and the regional human rights office for Southeast Asia, calling for interventions into this case.
MYANMAR: 14 people wrongly convicted over 2007 protests
1. Kyaw Win, of Shwenantthar Ward, Bahan Township, Yangon
2. Myo Tint Aung, also of Shwenantthar Ward
3. Ne Win, also of Shwenantthar Ward
4. Than Zaw, also of Shwenantthar Ward
5. Aung Ko Min, also of Shwenantthar Ward
6. Thein Zaw, of Yetarshe Ward, Bahan Township
7. Than Nyunt, of Shwenantthar Ward
8. Tin Tin Htwe
9. Thein Lwin
10. Kyaing Kyaing Thin (F), also of Shwenantthar Ward
11. Tin Nu, also of Shwenantthar Ward
12. Thant Zin, of Ward 2, North Okkalapa Township, Yangon
13. San San Myint (F), also of Shwenantthar Ward
14. Htwe Min also of Shwenantthar Ward
Primary officials involved:
1. Police Captain Myint Aung, Special Branch
2. Sub Inspector Win Thein, Special Branch
3. Police Lieutenant Colonel Thet Lwin, Commander, Police Battalion 1
4. Sub Inspector Than Htay Aung, Detective, Bahan Police Station
5. Police Sergeant Aung Saw Oo
6. Police Lance Corporal Khin Maung Htwe, Police Battalion 8
7. Police Lance Corporal U Tin Thein
8. Constable Kyaw Zeya Htun
Charge and trial: Charged under sections 332 (causing hurt to a public servant), 336 (endangering life), 294 (obscenity) and 114 (abetting) of the Penal Code, Felony Case No. 265/2008; Yankin Township Court, Judge Htay Htay (special power) presiding; judgment passed on 24 November 2008; defendants each sentenced three years with hard labour under section 332 and three months with hard labour under section 294, served consecutively with time deducted for periods already imprisoned
I am deeply disturbed to hear of yet another 14 persons in Myanmar who have been convicted without any strong evidence of alleged offences committed during the demonstrations in Yangon of September 2007 and I am appealing to you for an immediate review of their case and for their release.
According to the police, at around midday on 26 September 2007 the accused were part of a group of around 1000 protesting civilians and 400 monks that gathered at the eastern staircase of the Shwedagon Pagoda where they supposedly obstructed attempts to restore security, threw rocks and attempted to injure the security forces, causing simple injuries to six of them, and swore abusively at them. They also laid charges against 15 others whom they allege were involved but could not be apprehended.
The case was based on a few witness depositions to the court that in a crowd of thousands these few accused who could be plucked out were somehow the ones responsible for any acts of supposed violence towards the government personnel. In fact, the photographs of the crowd presented to the court as evidence reveal only two of the accused, Thein Lwin and Kyaing Kyaing Thin. The other defendants testified contrary to the prosecution story they had remained at shops and homes after orders from local officials, with Htwe Min stating that he was not even in the city as he had gone to do farming at Myinchan because of the shutdown of business with the demonstrations.
However, the judge did not take these testimonies into consideration at all in passing the verdict and even though the case against the 14 persons was not proven, on 24 November 2008 the judge convicted them without any reasoning or analysis of the evidence and testimonies presented and sentenced them to 3 years and 3 months each with hard labour.
In view of the legal requirement in Myanmar that the burden of proof lies with the prosecution and the patent lack of evidence presented in this case with which to reach a conviction, I call for the Minister of Home Affairs and the Attorney General and other concerned officials to review it promptly with a view to seeing the 13 persons released without delay.
Finally, I take this opportunity to remind the Government of Myanmar of the need to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross access to places of detention and not least of all, access to those persons and forcibly disrobed monks and nuns who have been held in violation of criminal procedure and without charge or trial since September 2007.