ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME
Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-107-2009
28 August 2009
BURMA: Four men tried for having stickers of Aung San Suu Kyi
ISSUES: Rule of law; military government; judicial system; illegal detention; freedom of expression
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has been informed of an ongoing case in Burma in which four men are being tried for having stickers of Aung San Suu Kyi. The men were arrested without basis and it was reportedly only after entering their houses that the police seized the stickers and accused them of having stuck them up in public and caused a disturbance, even though they had no proof.
According to the details of the case that the AHRC has obtained so far, on the night of 12-13 June 2009, two police and local officials arrested Aung Aung Oo (31), Bo Htun (36) and Kyaw Myo Naing (21) in Bahan, Rangoon. A companion managed to get away. The police took the three back to their houses where they allegedly found stickers with photos of democracy party leader Aung San Suu Kyi and some other materials. Later, the police claimed that they had taken the stickers from the three on the roadside, although persons familiar with the case deny this. The police records also are faulty, suggesting that they did not find the materials on the men as they said they did, because they were not filled out correctly: although they should have taken witness signatures at the place of arrest on the search and seizure forms, the signatures were taken at the district police station. Furthermore, the signatories were also government officials, not independent witnesses at all.
After the accused were detained, the police opened a case against them over an alleged bombing, completely unrelated to the pretext for their arrests. At the opening and subsequent hearing, neither the families nor lawyer of the accused were able to get access to the trial. Prosecution witnesses were not cross-examined. At a subsequent hearing, suddenly the police changed the charge to one of causing fear and alarm in the public, which is a “catch all” section of the law used when the police cannot come up with anything with which to charge the defendants. As of August the case was ongoing. The accused face two years’ imprisonment for this offence.
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: http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/search.php. Some recent cases include the life-imprisonment of a human rights defender and two other men over an alleged bomb plot (AHRC-UAU-018-2009), the killing of a young man in local council custody (AHRC-UAC-082-2009), the lengthy imprisonment of two elected MPs for writing a letter to the UN (AHRC-UAC-074-2009), the revocation of two lawyers’ licences for merely acting on the wishes of their clients in accordance with the law (AHRC-UAC-062-2009), and the case against Aung San Suu Kyi and three others (AHRC-UAC-060-2009; AHRC-STM-169-2009).
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). There are also a number of related sites, including the AHRC Burmese-language blog, Pyithu Hittaing, and the 2008 AHRC Human Rights Report chapter on Burma.