Protest against the SPDC’s measures, including sentencing of 65 years in prison for Myanmar democratic leaders and monks

In September 2007, the
Myanmar military government (SPDC) responded to the democratic movement with a
brutal clampdown and detainment of the participants. Despite severe criticisms
from the international community, the SPDC has not remedied this human rights
violation and, to make matters worse, it has conducted criminal trials against
participants and their oppression has continued.

On November 11th 2008, the
SPDC rendered the judgement of 65 years in prison-a de facto lifetime
imprisonment- to 23 prominent democratic activists who led the protest movement
from August to September 2007. The judgements were confidentially rendered to
so-called 88 generation democratic activists (students at that time who played
a main role in democratic movements in 1988) including Mr. Min Ko Naign, in
Insein Prison for 14 members and in each prison for the other 20 members (among
which 65 years in prison was the sentence for 9 members) and the judicial
processes were completely closed even to their families. In addition, on the
same day, the SPDC gave the judgement of 12-and-a-half years in prison to Ms.
Su Su New, a prominent activist in labour-related issues. Also, lawyers who defended
the democratic activists were detained. Furthermore, according to the
information we gained, Mr. Ashin Gambira, who lead the democratic movements as
a monk in September 2007, was given a judgement of 12 years in prison and some
other monks were also reportedly punished with sentences of imprisonment.


The subjects this judgment
are those involved in a series of activities following the nation-wide
democratic movement, including monks, which was triggered by the SPDC’s
one-sided decision on August 15th 2007 to raise the fixed price of fuel and
daily necessities. The decision was a matter of life or death for Myanmar
citizens, whose GDP per person is only 219 dollars (less than one dollar per
day), and the citizen leaders and monks started the protest movement in a
peaceful manner to protect citizens’ lives. This movement ultimately grew into
nation-wide democratic movement, but the whole process was conducted peacefully
from start to finish.


However, the SPDC clamped
down the movement by armed force, and they rendered on many participants a de
facto lifetime imprisonment of 65 years in prison. This is an outrage and
manifest challenge against democracy.


There is no doubt that
these judgements were rendered according to the will of the SPDC and were far from
independent and fairn. This amounts to a violation of fundamental and universal
human rights provided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including
the freedom of expression (Article 19), freedom of peaceful meeting and
assembly (Article 20), prevention of arbitrary arrest and detention (Article
9), and the right to receive independent, fair and open trial (Article 10).

On November 18th of this
year, five experts-Tomas Ojea Quintana (UN Special Rapporteur on the situation
of Human Rights in Myanmar), Leandro Despouy (Special Rapporteur on the
independence of the judiciary), Frank La Rue (Special Rapporteur on the Right
to Free Expression), Margaret Sekaggya (Special Rapporteur on the situation of
Human Rights Defenders), Asma Jahangir (Special Rapporteur on the Freedom of
Religion-who were elected by UN Human Rights Council, strongly criticized the
SPDC’s unfair trials and arbitrary convictions of “Prisoners of
Conscience” and urged the government to immediately stop the oppression and
arrests of people who peacefully exercised their right to free expression.

Human Rights Now strongly
protests these SPDC measures and calls on the international community,
including Japan, to strongly urge the SPDC to release all political prisoners,
including the above-mentioned 34 members, immediately and unconditionally.

On October 2nd 2007, the
UN’s Human Rights Council adopted a resolution concerning the human rights
situation in Myanmar which expressed strong regret toward the clampdown by its
armed forces. The resolution also urged the government to stop human rights
violations as well as to abolish all restrictions on expression, peaceful
meeting, and assembly in addition to recommending the immediate release of all
prisoners arrested in the armed clampdown in 2007 and other political prisoners
including Aung San Suu Kyi. It also recommended the SPDC have sincere talks
with democratic groups. However; none of these have been implemented. The SPDC
argues that they will pave the way for democracy by holding a general election
in 2010, but the series of above-mentioned actions revealed that this process
is simply part of deceiving the international community and is far from the
beginning of a road to genuine democracy. HRN urges all Member States of the
Human Rights Council, including Japan and other neighbouring countries, to make
every effort to correct these grave human rights violations using the Human
Rights Council and every other available opportunity.


(Human rights violations in
the judicial area of Myanmar)


I The unfair arrest and
sentence of the two senior lawyers (U Aung Them & U Khin Mating Shien)

1) These two lawyers have
taken many cases of democratic activists, including Monk Garnbira, who led the
massive democratic movement in September 2007.

2) Their clients expressed
no faith in the judicial process and therefore were withdrawing the power of
attorney from the two lawyers. The defendants had already told this to the
court (Hlaing Township Court) but the judge (Daw Aye Myaing) had instructed
them to communicate such in writing through their lawyers.


3) After the judge received
the letter as she had ordered, she submitted it to the Supreme Court with a
complaint against the two advocates under Section 3 of the Contempt of Courts
Act, 1926. This is even though the letter was submitted expressing the views of
the defendants, and the advocates were withdrawing their authority in
accordance with the clients’ wishes.


4) The two accused lawyers
were not invited to any trial at the Supreme Court and did not even know that
they had been accused of an offence until they heard of it by happenchance
through colleagues, while attending hearings as usual on Friday morning. The
court convicted the two without hearing from them, even though it ordinarily
takes between a week to ten days to hear such a case, and a fortnight and a
month for the court to issue a judgment.


5) Police arrested the two
senior advocates at their houses last night after they were convicted of
contempt of court. The two were taken to local police stations to be
transferred to prisons where they are each set to serve a term of four months.


2. Unfair arrest and
sentences against two young lawyers (Niyi Nyi Htwe & Saw Kyaw Kyaw Min)


1) Nyi Nyi Htwe and Saw
Kyaw Kyaw Min are defense lawyers of the 11 NLD youths who were arrested in
September 2008 for their peaceful march towards the Shwe Dagon Pagoda on June
19, 2007-Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s birthday-wearing T-shirts with photos of Daw
Aung San Suu Kyi on them.

2) Their family members are
not allowed to attend the court hearing. Their lawyers are not allowed to meet
with their clients in private to have proper consultation and instruction and
the judge does not allow them sufficient time to make counter questions against
the prosecution witnesses. Further, they found that the police and some
plain-cloth persons are taking pictures and recording their voices during the
trials. Therefore, the 11 defendants and two lawyers submitted a complaint to
the judge to address these unfair issues.


3) Instead of making the
trials free and fair, the judge allowed the prosecutor to sue the three
defendants and two lawyers, under the charge of Section 228 of the Penal Code
and issued a warrant to arrest the two lawyers.


4) On October 29th, one
lawyer, Nyi Nyi Htwe was arrested. Another lawyer, Saw Kyaw Kyaw Min, will go
to a police station tomorrow to face the charge.


3. The 14 democratic
activists got 65-year prison sentences The military regime sentenced 14 leading
activists, including five women, from the 88 Generation Students Group to 65
years imprisonment. The 14 activists who had been held under more than 20
charges–Min Zeya (M), Jimmy (aka) Kyaw Minn Yu (M), Zaw Zaw Min (M), Than Tin
(aka) Kyi Than (M), Zeyar (aka) Kalama (M), Ant Bwe Kyaw (M), Kyaw Kyaw Htwe
(aka) Markie (M), Pandeik Htun (M), Thet Zaw (aka) Zaukhtoe (M), Thin Thin Aye
(aka) Mie Mie (F), Mar Mar Oo (F), Nilar Thein (F), Sandar Min (aka) Shwee (F)
and Thet Thet Aung (F)–were given a prison term of 65 years each by the
infamous Insein Prison’s Special Court.


4. Nine 88 Generation group
leaders, including Min Ko naing, were sentenced to 65-year prison sentences On
11 November, nine 88 Generation Group leaders including Min Ko Naing were given
long-term prison sentences of 65 years again in Maubin prison, the same as the
previous fourteen members of the 88 Generation Students Group. After that they
were transferred to Insein Prison and then transferred again far from Rangoon
and into different areas as following—


Min Ko Naing

Ko Ko Gyi

Mya Aye

Pyone Cho

Aung Thu

Bo Bo Win Hlaing and 7 persons

Htay Kywe

Myo Aung Naing

Hla Myo Naung

Saw Wai

Su Sit Nway

Tint San

Myat San

Win Maw

U Aung Thein(Lawyer)

U Khin Mating Shein

Nay Myo Kyaw (This list needs to be tidied up and the
numbering system made consistent)


5. A famous labour activist
got a 12-and-a-half-year prison sentence (Su Su New)

Labour activist Su Su New,
the 2006 John Humphrey Freedom Award winner, was sentenced to 12-and-a-half
years imprisonment. She was charged under Sections 505b and 124 of the Penal
Code, and Sections 17 and 20 of the Printers and Publishers Act.


6. A democratic blogger
received a prison sentence (Nay Phone Latt)

Blogger Nay Phone Latt, 28,
a major source of information for the outside world on the brutal regime
crackdown during the September 2007 uprising, was sentenced to 20 years and six
months imprisonment. He was charged under Section 505/b of the Penal Code,
Articles 32/b & 36 of the Video Act, and Articles 33/a & 38 of the Electronic
Transactions Law.


7. A democratic poet got a
2-year jail sentence (Saw Wai)

Poet Saw Wai was sentenced
to two years imprisonment. He was charged under Section 505/b of the Penal
Code. The poet was arrested after his poem mocking junta leader Sr. Gen. Than
Shwe entitled “February 14” was published in the Love Journal. The
first words of each line of the poem spelled out `Power Crazy Senior General
Than Shwe’.


8. A famous monk received a
prison sentence (Ashin Gambira)

U Gambira, the 29-year old
leader of the All-Myanmar Monks’ Alliance that spearheaded nationwide protests in
Myanmar in September 2007 was sentenced to 12 years in prison on Tuesday by a
special court convened behind closed doors at Rangoon’s Insein Prison. When the
court handed down the decision, he had no lawyer because the lawyer was
arrested (as mentioned above-which lawyer?). Gatnbira was charged with
violating a number of laws generally having to do with threatening the
stability of the state, including Section 505 A and B of the State Offence Act,
Section 13/1 of the Immigration Act, Section 17/1 of the Illegal Organization
Act, Section 303 A of the Electronic Act and Section 6 of the Organization