ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAM-BURMA: Licences of lawyers revoked for merely representing their clients’ wishes


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-062-2009

22 June 2009
BURMA: Licences of lawyers revoked for merely representing their clients’ wishes

ISSUES: Rule of law; military government; judicial system



Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has previously reported on the case of two human rights lawyers who were sentenced to four months’ imprisonment each for contempt of court, because they withdrew their powers of attorney on the wishes of clients who cited the reason as a lack of faith in Burma’s judicial system. Now we regret to inform you that the licences of both lawyers have been revoked in a similarly unlawful manner.


The AHRC has documented in detail the contempt of court case against and imprisonment of Supreme Court lawyers U Khin Maung Shein and U Aung Thein in September 2008 after they submitted letters to a court withdrawing their powers of attorney citing their clients statements that they had “no longer had faith in the judicial process”. The judge attributed the statement to the lawyers rather than their clients and brought a charge of contempt against them. In November the two were found guilty without being able to defend themselves, and were sent to prisons far from their homes in Rangoon. They were released in March 2009.

In May the two rights lawyers were sent a copy of an order disbarring them from practice as lawyers. Ironically, the law revoked their licences under terms of a law that also should entitle them to tribunal hearings, and again, guarantees the right to present a defence in any disciplinary proceedings, which the two were denied.

Full details of the case are available at: Additional details also are contained in the sample letter, below.


The AHRC has been documenting numerous cases speaking to what it has described as Burma’s “injustice system” and Urgent Appeals on many of these can be accessed by going to the appeals’ page and entering “Burma” into the search box: Two special reports have also been issued in the article 2 periodical, “Saffron Revolution imprisoned, law denied” (vol. 7, no. 3, September 2008) and “Burma, political psychosis and legal dementia” (vol. 6, no. 5-6, December 2007)

SOUTHEAST ASIA: Regional Rights Body Dismissed as “Toothless”

By Marwaan Macan-Markar

BANGKOK, Jun 27 (IPS) – Southeast Asia is weeks away from getting its own regional human rights body, but not everyone is cheering the birth of this new mechanism due to be approved at a foreign ministers’ meeting here. Least of all the region’s vibrant human rights community, spread across the 10 countries that belong to the Association of South-east Asian Nations (ASEAN).

In a final, desperate push to lobby for an ASEAN Human Rights Body (AHRB) with teeth, over 200 civil society organisations, activists and academics have dispatched a letter to the high-profile committee drafting the terms of reference (ToR) of the rights body to make it an “effective” mechanism.

Plans are afoot to meet some foreign ministers before they assemble for the 42nd ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in the resort island of Phuket, from Jul. 17- 23. The ministers are due to approve the ToR for the AHRB, paving the way for it to start functioning later in the year.

The countries in the regional bloc, which was formed in 1967 as a bulwark against the spread of communism, include Brunei, Burma (or Myanmar), Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Continue reading “SOUTHEAST ASIA: Regional Rights Body Dismissed as “Toothless””

N. Korea must go to Phuket

Published: 29/06/2009 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: News
The Kang Nam 1 is a nondescript and mostly typical cargo ship that has become a metaphor for the North Korean regime that owns it. The ship is secretive, the crew refuses to communicate, and the old tub could be carrying highly illegal cargo to an equally recalcitrant dictatorship in Burma. A US navy guided-missile destroyer, operating with full United Nations authority, is trying to determine the goal of the ship and what cargo it is selling. The drama of this flagship of North Korean defiance is moving the entire world’s confrontation with North Korea uncomfortably close to the waters of our region.UN Security Council Resolution 1874 passed unanimously on June 12 after the Kim Jong-il regime tested a nuclear weapon and fired a frightening array of missiles designed to carry nuclear weapons, one of which could easily reach Bangkok. Among other restrictions, the UN enjoined North Korea from all arms exports. It authorised members to follow but not to board North Korean vessels suspected of arms trafficking. The Kang Nam 1 eventually will have to dock, but if it is in the Rangoon port reputedly built by drug traffickers and supported by the Burmese generals, it may never be properly searched.

Burma is a recorded consumer of North Korean arms, and reportedly has become a potential customer of nuclear technology. The junta has been secretive about its own nuclear projects, including activity at an off-limits site in northern Burma. An unauthorised nuclear project, even without weapons capability would pose a serious threat to the ecology of Thailand and the region. But reports are particularly troubling that North Korea re-established diplomatic relations with Burma two years ago with the aim of enmeshing Rangoon in its nuclear trafficking, by building a nuclear reactor like the illegal one it erected in Syria. Continue reading “N. Korea must go to Phuket”

Rock group U2 urges fans to protest against Aung San Suu Kyi arrest

London – Irish rock group U2, about to embark on a new concert tour, Sunday urged its fans to join in a protest against Myanmar’s ongoing arrest of political activist Aung San Suu Kyi. On its internet site, U2 offered a mask of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate which could be downloaded. U2 urged fans to wear the mask when the group performs the song “Walk On – which is dedicated to Suu Kyi – in order to draw global attention to her situation and to the human rights violations in Myanmar.
U2’s “360 degrees” tour, already completely sold out, starts June 30 in Barcelona.


In 2009 U2 fans at every show will be reminding the world of the plight of Burma’s democratically elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi. A Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi has been described as Asia’s Nelson Mandela. Her party, the National League for Democracy, won elections in 1990 but the ruling military junta refused to hand over power. Since that day most of her time has been spent under house arrest.

Borderland – A Film by Equator Pictures – Part 1 of 4-Karen

Hope, dreams and faith are the only things Law Eh Tew, Armstrong and Hardy have left in the Burmese refugee camp “Mae La Oon” situated in the vast Thai jungle. They fled from genocide and war, but are now isolated in a prison with green walls. They all long for freedom in different ways but the prospects of resettlement or liberty are slowly fading as the Burmese conflict drags on.