BURMA: Woman imprisoned after one-day trial for having some T-shirts


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-116-2009

11 September 2009
BURMA: Woman imprisoned after one-day trial for having some T-shirts

ISSUES: Rule of law; military government; judicial system; illegal detention

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has obtained information on another recent case of gross injustice and denial of fundamental rights in Burma, this time arising from possession of some T-shirts. Police arrested Ma Mar Mar Aye at her house in August after misleading her into thinking that she would come back home after a short time. They searched the house without a warrant. She was tried without having a lawyer or opportunity to speak. The charge and conviction against her also had no relevance to her supposed offence.


On 15 August 2009 two police officers came in plain clothes to the house of 46-year-old Ma Mar Mar Aye in Pegu and asked her to go with them. They indicated that she wouldn’t need to take anything with her and that she would be coming back the same day. Not only did she not come back, but also the next morning, the police came again to her house and searched it. In the search, they seized four T-shirts that had been made for the campaign to oppose the new army-arranged constitution, which was passed in 2008, and two T-shirts with the image of democracy party leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. They also seized copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but later returned these.

Neither the arrest of Mar Mar Aye nor search of her house was done with a warrant or according to any other procedures under law.

On August 17, without informing her family, the police lodged a charge against Mar Mar Aye for allegedly causing fear and alarm to the public. When the charge was read, Mar Mar Aye fainted in court and had to be taken to hospital for treatment before being transferred to prison.

On August 26 the trial was held and two days later the judge sentenced her to two years’ imprisonment. Mar Mar Aye was not represented in court, and according to someone who was present she was not permitted to speak. On the date of sentencing armed police were reportedly stationed outside the court to prevent members of the public from entering.

The trial as well as procedure of arrest was completely in violation of Burma’s domestic laws, to say nothing of international standards. Furthermore, the charge against Mar Mar Aye, which is often used in cases where police have no other offence available (see most recently the similar case of Aung Aung Oo and three others, AHRC-UAC-107-2009) is completely without basis because keeping some T-shirts at home is not a public act and therefore is irrelevant to this section of law.

Mar Mar Aye is reported to suffer heart disease and arthritis, and is said to have lost weight even in the short time that she has been incarcerated to date. It is normal for detainees in Burma to experience considerably worsening health while in prison, particularly if already in fragile condition when they are interred, and many have died from illnesses and complications while still in jail.

Further details of the case are provided in the sample letter below, as usual. Continue reading “BURMA: Woman imprisoned after one-day trial for having some T-shirts”

Retired Military Personnel to Form Political Party

RANGOON — The Myanmar War Veterans Organization (MWVO) will meet on Oct. 6-9 to form a political party to field candidates in the 2010 general election in Burma.

Members will reportedly be selected to run campaigns in every division and state, said sources in Naypyidaw, the capital.

Sources said that those selected are likely to be high-ranking retired officers, such as retired generals and colonels.

MWVO has more than 3,800 members who are former officers, more than 80,000 from lower ranks and more than 50,000 auxiliary members.

The MWVO has divisions devoted to politics, national defense and security, economics, social welfare and welfare. Continue reading “Retired Military Personnel to Form Political Party”

Offices of Burmese groups in Thailand raided

by Mungpi
Monday, 14 September 2009 16:46

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Unprecedented security checks has led to Thailand’s police raiding the offices of some Burmese opposition groups based in northern Thailand’s Chiang Mai city on Sunday, opposition members said.

The police, according to Burmese opposition members, came with a list of addresses of Burmese offices and took photographs.

“Since there was only our office worker in our office, we did not have any problem, but the police took photographs of the office,” a Burmese activist, whose office was also among those visited by the police, told Mizzima.

While Thailand’s Royal Police could not be reached on Monday for comment, a Burmese activist said, “This is the first time in many years that this kind of widespread search and interrogation has been made. I believe there is something behind this. “It is a targeted search, because it has been carried out only on Burmese organizations. It could be politically connected,” he further speculated.

The Thai police have often raided the offices of Burmese organizations in the past. But the source said it was never conducted in such a widespread manner.

“They have the list of most of the Burmese groups including some of the media offices in exile,” said a Burmese activist, who requested not to be named for security reasons.

Aung Myo Myint, Director of the Human Rights Education Institute of Burma (HREIB), whose office was also among those searched, said interrogating a human rights office is in violation of the basic rights of the people and condemned the action of the police. Continue reading “Offices of Burmese groups in Thailand raided”

Former KIA brigade warned not to help KIA in event of war

News – Kachin News Group
MONDAY, 14 SEPTEMBER 2009 11:09

A former army brigade of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) based in Burma’s northeast Shan State has been warned not to help the locally-based mother organization, in the event of Burmese troops attacking it, said local sources.

The Kong Hka-based Kachin Defense Army (KDA), former KIA’s 4th Brigade was informed of this early last week by Maj-Gen Aung Than Htut, commander of Lashio-based Northeast Shan State command (Ya-Ma-Kha) of the Burmese junta, said KDA sources.

KDA sources said, Aung Than Htut cautioned the group that it should not have any link and support the Loikang-based KIA’s 4th Brigade, based near the KDA headquarters Kong Hka if the Burmese troops attack it.

Maj-Gen Aung Than Htut also warned KDA that the relationship between the KDA and the junta will be tainted if the KDA ties up with the KIA’s 4th Brigade, and supports it, added the group’s sources.

The KDA led by Mahtu Naw has over 400 troops and the group accepted transforming KDA to the Burmese Army-controlled militia group in June.

According to sources close to KDA junior officers, the group leader Mahtu Naw and some high ranking officials will have to obey the commander’s directive. However junior officers and soldiers may not abide by the diktat. Continue reading “Former KIA brigade warned not to help KIA in event of war”

3 Soldiers Sentenced to 5 Years Hard Labor for Murdering Sergeant

Minbya: Three private soldiers in Arakan State were sentenced to five years in prison with hard labor by a court martial under the army act for murdering a sergeant, said a source close to the army.

“They were sentenced to five years in prison with hard labor recently for killing a sergeant in a village near an army headquarters,” he said.

The culprits were identified as Private Soe Soe, Maung Yin Chay, and Aung Kyaw from Army Training School No. 9 in Arakan’s Minbya Township.

According to an army source, on 18 July Sergeant Htun Oo was murdered by the three soldiers, who had been drinking, in Chay Wra Village near the school.

After the murder, the soldiers left the body of Htun Oo in a room of the village primary school and fled the scene to avoid arrest by the army.

However, the authorities found and arrested the three soldiers in a ward of Mrauk U, the ancient city of Arakan, on 25 July, 2009.

“Army authorities formed a court martial led by Colonel Saw Htwe, who is head of the army central training school in Minbya Township, to investigate and try the case,” the source added.

The court found the three soldiers guilty of murder and sentenced them to five years in prison with hard labor under army law.

A dozen children were reportedly arrested and interrogated by the police after play-acting a demonstration on Friday in Sittwe, the capital of Arakan State in western Burma

“The children were brought to Police Station No. 1 and questioned about their game playing, which involved them shouting “our cause, our cause” just like an adult demonstration,” he said.

The children are said to have played their “our cause” game at the road junction outside the Government Electricity Supply Office in Sittwe.

“They were asked the main question about why they were playing the game, and who made them shout together “our cause, our cause” like staging a demonstration, and whether any adults were behind them, etcetera,” said the relative reporting what the children had told him.

The children were spotted and arrested by police patrolling the city during heightened security in Sittwe. Authorities have deployed additional forces and are watching the city very closely in order to pre-empt any unrest during the anniversary of the monk uprising known as the Saffron Revolution.

The children’s parents had to sign for their release under a warning that they would be punished if their children play that kind of game again in the future,” the source added.