BURMA: Air force officer tortured, jailed for 20 years over Internet use

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-182-2012

13 October 2012

———————————————————————
BURMA: Air force officer tortured, jailed for 20 years over Internet use

ISSUES: Torture; arbitrary arrest and detention; right to fair trial
———————————————————————

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has been alerted to the case of an air force officer currently serving a 20-year jail sentence for posting articles online critical of the armed forces. Ne Lynn Dwe was taken by military intelligence from his barracks in December 2011 and held incommunicado before being sentenced in April 2012 by a military court martial, before which he had no legal representative. He allegedly suffered torture and has had psychological problems since.

CASE NARRATIVE:

On the night of 12 December 2011 officers from military intelligence came to Ne Lynn Dwe, 38, at his camp in Myeik, southern Burma, and told him to go with them by aircraft to Rangoon. Once there, Ne Lynn Dwe was detained and accused of having posted some 70 articles to the Internet since 2009 detailing military life and the hardships and difficulties faced by ordinary service personnel. In March 2012 a court martial convened to hear the case, and in April it convicted him and sentenced him to 20 years in jail for violating the Emergency Provisions Act by doing actions to undermine the military; and, the Electronic Transactions Law, for using the Internet illegally.

Photo: Ne Lynn Dwe
While in custody, Ne Lynn Dwe was allegedly tortured, and treated inhumanely. He was held without his family having access to him. Each time he was taken for interrogation, his face was covered and he heard only the voices of his interrogators. They injected him with some substance that made him lose his sense of self and answer questions uninhibitedly. While being held in custody he was kept handcuffed and for some time was allowed to wear only a singlet and shorts. Later he was given one sarong and shirt, for the duration of his four months in custody while awaiting court martial, and during the court martial process.

As a result, he is today suffering psychological problems, specifically, he is not able to recall names other basic information, and sometimes cannot speak clearly. Furthermore, when the case came to court martial he did not have a lawyer. Nor has his family since been able to obtain the records of the trial, and therefore what information is known about it has been drawn together by them from visits to the central prison since Ne Lynn Dwe’s conviction. Throughout the duration of his custody, from time of being taken to Yangon until after his court martial, Ne Lynn Dwe could not meet his family, or other persons.

Not only did Ne Lynn Dwe himself suffer but his family also was directly and indirectly affected. After Ne Lynn Dwe’s arrest, his possessions were not returned to the family, on the pretext of not having the means to send them, and the military did not pay his salary for his time in detention prior to conviction. The family has also lost his military pension and was in February 2012 forced to leave the military accommodation provided to them.

Additionally, aside from Ne Lynn Dwe, two other officers were also imprisoned regarding related alleged offences. They are Acting Major Min Htun Thein, who received seven years, and Captain Chit Ko, who received 10.

Further details of the case can be found in the sample letter below, as usual.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

The laws under which Ne Lynn Dwe was convicted are incompatible with human rights and with the democratic values that the government of Myanmar now claims to be espousing. The Emergency Provisions Act is completely outdated and inapplicable to the current times, in which no emergency situation exists of the sort for which that law was framed. Legislators have made submissions for the law to be revoked and I urge that these submissions be treated seriously. The Electronic Transactions Law is a malodorous piece of legislation whereby practically any form of Internet use could conceivably be cast as a criminal offence, for which a convicted person is liable to imprisonment of periods that are completely disproportionate to the alleged crimes of the sort that the accused in this case was supposed to have committed. Therefore, these laws ought also to be revoked.

The AHRC is aware of other similar cases in recent years in which army personnel have been convicted of offences over the use of Internet or similar; however, most are reluctant to speak up against their imprisonment for fear that matters could be made worse.

For many more cases and issues concerning human rights in Burma, visit the AHRC’s country homepage: http://www.humanrights.asia/countries/burma

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write a letter to the following government authorities to urge that Ne Lynn Dwe be released from imprisonment. Please note that for the purpose of the letter Burma is referred to by its official name, Myanmar, and Rangoon as Yangon.

Please also be informed that the AHRC is writing separate letters to the UN Special Rapporteurs on human rights in Myanmar; on torture, and on freedom of expression; and, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and regional office in Bangkok, calling for their interventions into this matter.

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear ___________,

MYANMAR: Air force officer allegedly tortured, sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment without fair trial for Internet use along with two others

Name of victim: Ne Lynn Dwe, 38, air force captain, stationed at Myeik Air Force HQ, currently detained at Insein Central Prison; married with two children (aged 12 and 3)

Arresting officers: Officers from Military Affairs Security

Date of incident: 12 December 2011 to present

Court martial: No. 23/12, convened by Light Infantry Battalion 435 under order dated 2 March 2012, charged the accused under section 3, Emergency Provisions Act, 1950; and, section 33(a), Electronic Transactions Law, consistent with the 1959 Defence Services Act, sections 65 and 71, sentenced to 20 years in jail

I am writing to call for the release from prison of an air force officer accused of writing and posting online material deemed by a court martial to be damaging to the Myanmar armed forces, who was detained without correct procedure and convicted in a patently unfair trial after allegedly being subjected to torture.

According to the information that I have received, on the night of 12 December 2011 officers from military intelligence, Military Affairs Security, came to Ne Lynn Dwe at his camp in Myeik and told him to go with them by aircraft to Yangon. Once in Yangon, Ne Lynn Dwe was detained at the Light Infantry Battalion 435 base in South Okkalapa Township, and accused of having posted some 70 articles to the Internet since 2009 detailing military life and the hardships and difficulties faced by ordinary service personnel. In March 2012 a court martial convened to hear the case, and in April it convicted him and sentenced him to 20 years in jail

I am informed that during the time that Ne Lynn Dwe was in custody he was held without his family having access to him and that he was allegedly tortured. Each time he was taken for interrogation, his face was covered and he heard only the voices of his interrogators. They injected him with some substance that made him lose his sense of self and answer questions uninhibitedly. While being held in custody he was kept handcuffed and for some time was allowed to wear only a singlet and shorts. Later he was given one sarong and shirt, for the duration of his four months in custody while awaiting court martial, and during the court martial process.

As a result of the inhuman treatment he is today suffering psychological problems, specifically, he is not able to recall names other basic information, and sometimes cannot speak clearly. Furthermore, when the case came to court martial he did not have a lawyer. Nor has his family since been able to obtain the records of the trial, and therefore what information is known about it has been drawn together by them from visits to the central prison since Ne Lynn Dwe’s conviction.

The laws under which Ne Lynn Dwe was convicted are incompatible with human rights and with the democratic values that the government of Myanmar now claims to be espousing. The Emergency Provisions Act is completely outdated and inapplicable to the current times, in which no emergency situation exists of the sort for which that law was framed. I am aware that legislators have made submissions for the law to be revoked and I urge that these submissions be treated seriously. The Electronic Transactions Law is a malodorous piece of legislation whereby practically any form of Internet use could conceivably be cast as a criminal offence, for which a convicted person is liable to imprisonment of periods that are completely disproportionate to the alleged crimes of the sort that the accused in this case was supposed to have committed.

Not only did Ne Lynn Dwe himself suffer but his family also was directly and indirectly affected. After Ne Lynn Dwe’s arrest, his possessions were not returned to the family, on the pretext of not having the means to send them, and the military did not pay his salary for his time in detention prior to conviction. The family has also lost his military pension and was in February 2012 forced to leave the military accommodation provided to them.

In view of the above alleged arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, and unfair trial of Ne Lynn Dwe I urge that his case be reviewed promptly and that he be released from custody and be allowed to return to his young family. I am further informed that aside from Ne Lynn Dwe, two other officers were also imprisoned regarding related alleged offences. They are Acting Major Min Htun Thein, who received seven years, and Captain Chit Ko, who received 10. I urge that these officers also be released.

I also take this opportunity to call for the revocation of the Emergency Provisions Act and the Electronic Transactions Law, since both of these statutes serve the purpose only of violating the human rights of persons in Myanmar, and are incompatible with the expressed intention of the current administration to democratize.

Yours sincerely,

—————-

PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. U Thein Sein
President of Myanmar
President Office
Office No.18
Naypyitaw
MYANMAR

2. Vice Senior General Min Aung Hlaing
Commander in Chief
Defence Services
Naypyitaw
MYANMAR

4. General Ye Aung
Judge Advocate General
Ministry of Defence
Naypyitaw
MYANMAR
Tel: +95 67 404 088/ 090/ 092/ 094/ 097
Fax: +95 67 404 146/ 106

5. U Win Mra
Chairman
Myanmar National Human Rights Commission
27 Pyay Road
Hlaing Township
Yangon
MYANMAR
Tel: +95-1-659 668
Fax: +95-1-659 668

6. Ko Ko Hlaing
Chief Political Advisor
Office of the President
Naypyitaw
MYANMAR
Tel-+95-1-532 501 ext-605 / 654 668
Fax-+95-1-532 500, 654 668

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s