Pics Total Burma protest at Watford Court and Offices 24.01.09 UK

On 23rd January the opening day of French Total Oil’s Buncefield explosion criminal proceedings at Watford Magristrates Court, Burma protesters and supporters remind passers-by of Total’s other disgraces and also leafleted at Total’s Watford offices just down the road from the magistrates court.

sorry for late posting mate

Rohingya: A regional problem by Larry Jagan

Solving the problem of Burmese Muslim refugees will take the full efforts of several of the region’s organisations

By: Larry Jagan
Published: 22/02/2009 at 03:40 AM
Newspaper section: Spectrum
“The Rohingya issue is a very complicated challenge to the entire region of Southeast Asia,” Mr Surin told Spectrum in an exclusive interview. “Asean happens to be a foremost regional organisation aspiring to evolve into a community of caring societies, so it has to be an issue of concern to Asean.”

The Rohingya issue featured prominently in bilateral talks in the region last week. US Secretary for State Hillary Clinton discussed it during meetings with both the Indonesian president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and the foreign minister, Hasan Wirajuda. Army chief Anupong Paojinda reportedly raised the issue with the Burmese junta’s leader General Than Shwe when he visited the Burmese capital Naypyidaw earlier in the week, while Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva also compared notes with his Indonesian counterpart during his visit to Jakarta.

“We are going to find a suitable way to raise the Rohingya issue during the Asean meeting,” said a Foreign Ministry spokesman. “But it may not be discussed formally at the summit.”

But this is unlikely to satisfy activists and human rights groups who believe that unless there is a strong political will on the part of the region’s leaders at the forthcoming summit to seriously tackle the issue, the problem will be left to fester.
“The Rohingya issue is a cross-border problem that cannot be handled by one country alone, it needs a regional response,” Yap Swee Seng head of a regional human rights group, Forum-Asia, told journalists last Thursday ahead of the Asean summit. “While it may be discussed on the margins of the Asean leaders’ meeting, what is needed is a formal consultative meeting of Asean, including Bangladesh and India, who have both been affected by the exodus of Rohingya from Burma.”

Thailand and Indonesia have already agreed that the problem will be referred to the Bali Process after the summit. In fact, the Indonesian and Australian foreign ministers, who chair the international group, have already agreed that the next annual gathering will discuss the Rohingya issue. This year’s Bali Process meeting is expected to be held next month, or early in April. “We discussed and welcomed the fact that the question of the Rohingya will form part of the discussion at the forthcoming ministerial meeting of the Bali Process,” Australia’s Foreign Minister Stephen Smith told reporters in Sydney last week, after a meeting with his Indonesian counterpart. continue

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: [ALRC Statement] BURMA: Non-application of law and the cases arising from September 2007 in Myanmar 20.02.

Tenth session

A written statement submitted by the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), a non-governmental organisation with general consultative status

BURMA: Non-application of law and the cases arising from September 2007 in Myanmar

1. For a number of years that the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) has worked closely and consistently on the situation of human rights in Myanmar it has stressed the need for international organisations and others concerned with the situation there to concentrate their attention on the features of and defects in the criminal justice system as a means to better understand the mechanisms both for persistent authoritarian control of the state there and to deny redress for abuses of fundamental rights.

2. Since the massive September 2007 monk-led demonstrations, the ALRC has documented numerous cases brought against persons accused of involvement in the protests that together again underline the telling need for this approach to the situation of human rights in Myanmar. Just a few of the violations of provisions of Myanmar domestic law, to say nothing of international law, and comments upon their ramifications for the judicial system in Myanmar as a whole, follow:

a. Coerced signing of confessions and “pledges” that had no basis in law

Persons in civilian clothes waylaid Khin Sanda Win, 23, on 29 September 2007 outside the Pansodan Department Store in Kyauktada Township, Yangon, tied her hands behind her back and took her to the town hall where she was put together with ten men who were unknown to her and then they were each photographed with various weapons, including knives, slingshots and pellets. Then they were allegedly forced to sign confessions that the weapons had been found in their bags. Khin Sanda Win was sent to the special interrogation centre at Kyaikkasan and she was kept there without charge, warrant or otherwise until October 7, when she was transferred to the central prison and held there, again without charge, warrant or any other legal order until October 25, when she was sent to the Hlaing Township Peace and Development Council office where in the presence of the council chairman and her parents she was told to sign a pledge that she would not take part in any anti-state activities, after which she was released. According to state news reports, thousands of people were given similar pledges and released in this period. But on 1 November 2007 two police officers came to Khin Sanda Win’s house and informed her that she would be charged with having illegal arms. When Khin Sanda Win went to court the next day, the charge that the court put against her was not as the police had indicated but instead acting “to endanger human life or the personal safety of others” under sections 336/511 of the Penal Code (charge brought by Inspector Soe Naing, Kyauktada Police Station, Serial No. La/147569). When her lawyer applied for bail, the amount set was vastly in excess of the legal maximum, and thereafter Assistant Judge U Thaung Lwin (First Class) (Kyauktada Township Court) unilaterally revoked bail without giving a reason. Appeals to higher-level courts were unsuccessful.

b. Illegal arrest and arbitrary detention in violation of section 59 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) of Myanmar, which requires a detainee to be taken to a police station and section 61, which requires a detainee to be brought before a magistrate within 24 hours

U Ohn Than, 60, on 23 August 2007 went by himself to the front of the then-Embassy of the United States of America in Kyauktada, Yangon and held a placard with a series of points written on each side. On one, he called among other things for the UN Secretary General to intervene and support the people’s will for the restoring of parliament in Myanmar. On the other, he called on soldiers to uphold the armed forces’ dignity and defy the orders of their superiors in order to bring an end to dictatorship. Like other protestors, Ohn Than was not arrested according to any law. After being bundled away in a vehicle by men in plain clothes who did not identify themselves to him, he was taken to the Kyaikkasan special military interrogation camp rather than a police station where he was kept incognito for 160 days until the end of January 2008 when his case was finally brought into a court (by brought by Inspector Soe Naing, Kyauktada Township Police, Serial No. La/147569). Like others, he was not tried in an open court but in a special closed court. Judge U Kyaw Swe (Deputy District Judge No. 3, Yangon Western District Court [Special Court], Judge No. Ta/1867) on 2 April 2008 found him guilty of violating section 124A of the Penal Code on the basis that standing alone at a busy place in front of a foreign embassy with a placard amounted to an act of sedition, and sentenced him to life imprisonment.

c. Closed trials in violation of section 2(e) of the Judiciary Law 2000 and section 352 of the CrPC, and denial of the right to appeal against maltreatment of court

Ko Htun Htun Oo, Ko Maung Maung Latt and Ko Aung Kyaw Moe, and Ma Htar Htar Thet, had four cases pending before Judge Daw Aye Myaing of the Hlaing Township Court, Yangon, at a special courtroom within the Insein Central Prison, under an order from the Supreme Court on 3 October 2008 when their family members were not allowed to enter the courtroom nor leave food for them. Thereafter, at the hearing on October 6, Ko Htun Htun Oo, speaking on behalf of the four defendants, informed the court that as the family members had been denied the right to attend the hearings and as the defendants “no longer had faith in the judicial process” they had decided that they would no longer cooperate with the court. They would refuse to be examined, give testimony, or cross-examine witnesses through their counsel. They also would withdraw the power of attorney from the two lawyers at the next hearing. After he made this statement, the judge instructed that the same be put to the court through the lawyers. When this was subsequently done, the lawyers themselves were accused of contempt of court and imprisoned (their case is taken up in a separate submission of the ALRC to the Human Rights Council).

d. Denial of the right to a lawyer and the right to make a proper defence under section 340 of the CrPC and section 2(f) of the Judiciary Law 2000 as well as denial of the right to present witnesses

Police arrested 34-year-old Ko Thiha on the night of 7 September 2007 south of Mandalay, near the town of Wundwin, over some allegedly inflammatory publications. They brought him to the Mandalay District Court (although by law it should have been initiated in the local township court) and charged him with sedition and upsetting public tranquility under sections 124A/505(b) of the Penal Code (charges brought by Police Captain Win Myint, Special Branch). The trial was held at a special court inside the Mandalay Prison. Thiha did not have a lawyer to represent him, even though he was facing a life sentence. He was not able to call any witnesses or defend himself in court. Meanwhile, the witnesses that the police called were not the ones present when Thiha was actually arrested. The police did not present any evidence to strongly support the charge of sedition and instead called another judge who briefly testified that Thiha had made a confession before him, which was presented as evidence. However, Thiha claims to have never seen that judge before the trial. The hearings were all completed in a single day, and on 17 September 2007 after only ten days of investigation and trial the presiding judge, Win Htay, sentenced Thiha to 22 years in prison.

e. Evidence-less cases or cases consisting of inadmissible evidence under the Evidence Act

Ma Honey Oo, 21, was accused of having had contact with overseas radio stations to give out information at the time of the protests, and having been involved in making a student union. She was taken into custody on 9 October 2007 but was not brought before the Yangon Eastern District Court until 20 December 2007. The police accused Honey Oo of having been involved in a student union, having talked to foreign media by telephone and of having participated in protests at the Yuzana Plaza and on the road from Mingalar Market to Natmauk on 25-6 September 2007. However, when pressed in court they could not produce any evidence to support any of their claims and on the contrary showed ignorance and confusion about the laws under which she had been brought. The investigating detective, Sub-Inspector Soe Moe Aung (Serial No. La/134172, Tamwe Township Police) said that the information they had that Honey Oo was part of the group accused of having contact with overseas media was from a reliable source, but he could not divulge the source to the court and the source was not included among the list of witnesses in the case. He had no evidence to present to the court other than the supposed confession of the accused. Nor could he produce any photographs or other evidence that Honey Oo was in the protests as he had claimed in the charges against her, saying only that eyewitnesses had seen her, although he acknowledged that it was the responsibility of the police to take photographs and bring enough evidence with which to support the case. On the other hand, among the “evidence” presented against Honey Oo was that she had gone for English lessons at the American Center library. Notwithstanding, Daw Aye Thein, Deputy District Judge (1) (Judge No. Ta/1724) on 13 November 2008 sentenced her to four-and-a-half years in jail.

3. There are large numbers of cases and further violations of domestic law since the September 2007 events that the ALRC has documented in detail and could use to further illustrate the point that the Government of Myanmar is disinterested or unable to apply its own domestic law, let alone the standards to which the United Nations subscribes, in handling criminal cases of this sort. However, the bigger point that needs to be made here is that it is not merely these cases and the accused persons that are of concern. Rather, as a consequence of this sort of deliberate misuse and degrading of the institutions of criminal justice, there is a flow-on effect into the system as a whole. The perverting of due process in the courts, the encouragement of police and other state officials to ignore even the most basic procedures in arrest and detention, and the denial of the most fundamental rights to accused persons persist across all institutions thereby making the notion of justice for anyone in Myanmar in any case elusive if not altogether unattainable.

4. In keeping with this analysis, the Asian Legal Resource Centre has urged and again urges the concerned Special Procedures of the Council, in particular to the Special Rapporteur on the situation on human rights in Myanmar but also the mandates concerning arbitrary and illegal detention, independence of judges and lawyers, human rights defenders, and the question of torture to take up and pursue cases arising from extraordinary events, including the September 2007 protests and May 2008 cyclone, in the broader frame of systemic failure of criminal justice that impinges directly upon the lives of everyone in Myanmar, not merely those who have been targeted because of their supposed attempts to arouse dissent to the current government or others in cases of special interest. It is in the profound consequences for the lives of everyone in the country that these cases have their special importance and deserve, indeed demand, our attention.

There are a total of 2,137 political prisoners in Burma. [1] These include:

Chronology of Political Prisoners in Burma for January 2009
Summary of current situation
There are a total of 2,137 political prisoners in Burma. [1] These include:
Monks 224
Members of Parliament 16
Students 272[2]
Women 189
NLD members 462
Members of the Human Rights Defenders and Promoters network 42
Ethnic nationalities 203
Cyclone Nargis volunteers 21
Teachers 26
Media activists 43
Lawyers 15
In poor health 115

Since the protests in August 2007 leading to last September’s Saffron Revolution, a total of 1,052 activists have been arrested and are still in detention.
more detail >>> Chronology of Political Prisoners in Burma for January 2009 (English Version: PDF)
Around 30 political prisoners were released in December. Some had come to the end of their prison term and others were released without charge.
[2] This figure includes 46 “88 Generation Students Group” members.

De Nyein Linn, leader of the 2007 All Burmese Federation of Student Unions has been transfered to Khanti prison

ဒီကေနႛ ႎိုင္ငံေရးအကဵဥ္းသားတခဵႂိႛကို လၿတ္ေပးလိုက္ေပမယ့္ မဳကာေသးခင္ကမႀ ေထာင္ဒဏ္ ၁၅ ႎႀစ္ ခဵမႀတ္ခံရတဲ့ အသက္ ၂၁ ႎႀစ္အရၾယ္ ဗမာႎိုင္ငံလံုးဆိုင္ရာ ေကဵာင္းသားသမဂၢေခၝင္းေဆာင္ ဒီ႓ငိမ္းလင္းကို ခႎၨီးေထာင္ကို ေဴပာင္းေရၿႛခဲ့ပၝတယ္။

In Exile or At Home, Working in Burma’s Media Isn’t Easy

Speaking at about the role of the media at a conference earlier this February in Barcelona, Spain, the journalist for the Norway-based Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), a non-profit media organisation run by Burmese exiles and journalists, gave an overview about the media situation in the South-east Asian country ruled by the Gen. Than Shwe-led junta.

“Here in Barcelona, Spain, or elsewhere in Europe, the United States, Australia and Japan, media workers are safe and sound. But in Burma, while the world’s most notorious military junta is still in power, it is very difficult and dangerous work,” he said.

Apart from Japanese photojournalist Kenji Nagai, who was shot at the height of the September 2007 demonstrations, Htet said that citizen journalists in his country are still missing. Twelve journalists, including some undercover reporters for the DVB TV were detained in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis and the constitutional referendum in 2008, he added. continue

Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her deputy Tin Oo have apparently been excluded from the amnesty. Suu Kyi and Tin Oo have been under house arrest since mid-2003.

Myanmar authorities Saturday began to free prisoners from Yangon’s notorious Insein jail, including some political prisoners, under a government amnesty for 6,313 inmates nationwide.

Eyewitnesses saw scores of prisoners leaving Insein Saturday evening. Among them were Thet Wai, a member of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party, and five other low-ranking opposition members. continue

Dr. Zaw Myint Maung, a Member of Parliament elected in the 1990 elections from Mandalay division’s Amarapura township, and Phe Sein from the Moe Nyin township of Kachin state, were released on Saturday from Myitkyina prison in Kachin state, family members said.

Similarly, Thet Wai, chairman of San Chuang township NLD, was also released from Insein prison on Saturday, eyewitness said.

“They were released at about 3:45 p.m. (local time). The prison authorities escorted them up to a guest house. Authorities said they are both physically fine, but Dr. Zaw Myint Maung said they will check with a doctor after they reach home to see if they are fine,” a close family member of the two prisoners told Mizzima over telephone.

In the first batch on Saturday Myitkyina prison authorities released 30 prisoners at about 3:45 p.m. (local time) including 11 elderly women, eyewitnesses said.

BREAKING NEWS: Junta’s amnesty includes 12 political prisoners

by Nem Davies & Phanida
Saturday, 21 February 2009 20:30

New Delhi/Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Providing an inkling of hope in the Opposition camps, the Burmese military junta released 12 political prisoners from among over 6,000 prisoners meant to be granted amnesty on Saturday, family members and sources said.

Dr. Zaw Myint Maung, a Member of Parliament elected in the 1990 elections from Mandalay division’s Amarapura township, and Phe Sein from the Moe Nyin township of Kachin state, were released on Saturday from Myitkyina prison in Kachin state, family members said.

Similarly, Thet Wai, chairman of San Chuang township NLD, was also released from Insein prison on Saturday, eyewitness said.

“They were released at about 3:45 p.m. (local time). The prison authorities escorted them up to a guest house. Authorities said they are both physically fine, but Dr. Zaw Myint Maung said they will check with a doctor after they reach home to see if they are fine,” a close family member of the two prisoners told Mizzima over telephone.

In the first batch on Saturday Myitkyina prison authorities released 30 prisoners at about 3:45 p.m. (local time) including 11 elderly women, eyewitnesses said.

Dr. Zaw Myint Maung was arrested in 1990 on charges of planning to form a parallel government and in 1991 he was sentenced to 25 years on charges of committing high-treason against the state.

And in 1997, authorities handed down an extra 12 years on charges of passing on information to the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) on the situation in prisons in Burma.

He was serving a total of 37 years in prison.

Phe Sein, member of Burma’s main opposition party – National League for Democracy – was arrested along with fellow members Kyaw Maung and Ne Win and sentenced to two years each for participating in the 2007 September protests in Myitkyina town in Kachin state.

Though Phe Sein was released on Saturday, his two friends Ne Win and Kyaw Maung remain detained in Myitkyina prison.

“I asked about U Ne Win, but they said he is not in the list to be released,” Ne Win’s wife told Mizzima.

Similarly, Thet Wai, who was arrested in 2008 for complaining about the use of child soldiers to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), was released at about 4:45 p.m. (local time) from Rangoon’s notorious Insein prison.

“I saw a prison vehicle move out from the prison at about 4:45 p.m. and saw U Thet Wai was on the vehicle. He peeped out and shouted that 11 had been freed. But I could not recognise the rest of them,” said an eyewitness, who closely monitors political prisoners in Insein prison.

Along with Thet Wai, nine other political prisoners were released from Insein prison on Saturday, according to the source.

The political prisoners are four monks from Rangoon’s Bakara monastery, two monks from Kaing Kone Monastery, and a monk from Sandar Thuria monastery and a student activist Tun Tun of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions and Khaing Ba Myint from the Arakan Liberation Party (ALP).