BURMA: Bar councils exhorted to support Burmese lawyers
A Press Release by the Asian Legal Resource Centre
(Hong Kong, December 23, 2011) The Asian Legal Resource Centre on Friday issued an appeal to bar councils worldwide to support lawyers in Burma who have had their licences revoked for political reasons.
In a special appeal to the International Bar Association, International Council of Jurists and bar councils around the world, the director of the Hong Kong-based regional research and advocacy group asked that the professional bodies write to urge the Supreme Court in Burma to review the circumstances under which 32 lawyers lost their licences.
The lawyers had had their licences to practice removed "for their simple expression of political views, or for no more than the defence of persons accused of political offences", Wong Kai Shing said in the appeal.
"We are particularly interested to get the support for these lawyers from their counterparts in professional groups around the world, because we are confident that these will have a strong effect both as a source of encouragement for the lawyers and also as an impetus for the professional bodies concerned in Myanmar to review their cases," Wong added.
The appeal to bar councils follows an open letter that the ALRC issued on Thursday to the chief justice in Burma, in support of 16 of the lawyers who in November submitted a written request that their cases be re-examined.
"According to the 16 lawyers, they had their licences revoked unfairly and unlawfully, inasmuch as the revocations were not done in accordance with correct procedure and were motivated not in response to breaches of professional codes of conduct but because of dissatisfaction of the authorities with their political activities, or efforts to defend the rights of persons accused in political cases," Wong said in the letter.
"We believe that there will be other lawyers aside from these 32 in the same situation of having had their licences revoked for political reasons, many having spent periods in jail," he noted.
Text of the open letter is available online here: http://www.alrc.net/doc/mainfile.php/alrc_st2011/696
The appeal and details of the 32 lawyers is available for download in PDF format here: http://www.alrc.net/PDF/ALRC-CPL-001-2011.pdf
Wong said that the ALRC would distribute the appeal widely.
"We will be sending the appeal and details of the lawyers through partners to bar councils throughout Asia, including in neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, India and Thailand, as well as further afield, like Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Korea and the Philippines," he said.
"However, the appeal is for bar councils worldwide, and so we would be very pleased to hear from professional bodies in other regions of the world, including in Africa, Europe and the Americas," Wong added.
Individuals or bar councils sending letters to the chief justice in Burma are invited to send copies to the ALRC, either to post online or to send on to the lawyers themselves.