BURMA: Two elected MPs given 27 years for writing letter to UN


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-074-2009
ISSUES: Arbitrary arrest & detention, Freedom of expression, Judicial system, Military, Rule of law, State of emergency & martial law,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) regrets to have to inform you of yet another case of gross injustice and denial of human rights in Burma through that country’s “injustice system”. In this case, two elected parliamentarians have been sentenced to 27 years in jail each for organizing a group of their peers to send a letter to the United Nations over the country’s current political impasse.


Dr Tin Min Htut and U Nyi Pu are two elected members of parliament who in July last year organized 92 elected members of parliament to sign a letter for the United Nations Secretary General and UN Security Council that criticized both the military regime and also the UN itself for siding with dictatorship in Burma. After that, in August, Special Branch police officers arrested both the men and charged them under three separate laws, all relating to the upsetting of public tranquility and peace.

However, the manner of arrest, detention and charges all violate Burma’s own laws, let alone international standards.

To begin with, both of the men were held illegally at an army camp until the end of September, when they were transferred to the central prison. They weren’t brought before a judge until February 2009, even though according to law they should have been brought to one within 24 hours of arrest. Then, when they were finally tried they were tried inside a closed court in the prison, and a lawyer who came to represent them was refused entry.

The evidence against the two men also was inadequate for a conviction, had the court been conducting hearings independently and according to the standards that it is supposed to uphold. Specifically, the police could not produce the original letter that they were alleged to have prepared and sent, only a copy taken from the Internet. A copy of the letter is not sufficiently strong evidence by itself to be used for a conviction in this sort of case. Also, they were both accused of sending the letter out through the Internet, but the police had no evidence to show who it was who had posted the letter online.

Notwithstanding, the two were convicted and sentenced to a total of 27 years’ imprisonment each. U Nyi Pu has reportedly been in ill health since he was detained.


The ongoing trial of democracy party leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in recent months has attracted worldwide attention to the use of Burma’s courts for political ends (AHRC-UAC-060-2009). In this case, like that one, there were many flaws in the process of the case (just a few have been identified here) because the process was not relevant to the final outcome.

In this regard, he 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. Among them, other former MPs have also been charged under the same Anti-Subversion Law (see further below) as these two accused: AHRC UP-008-2007.

Two special reports on these topics 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 most recent campaign page on lawyers imprisoned for attempting to defend their clients: http://campaigns.ahrchk.net/burma-lawyers/ And see the 2008 AHRC Human Rights Report chapter on Burma.



Please in this case write to the secretary general of the United Nations directly, as the case specifically concerns him, as well as government officials. Please note that for the purpose of the letter, the country should be referred to by its official title of Myanmar, rather than Burma, and Rangoon as Yangon.

Please be informed that the AHRC is writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteurs on Myanmar, independence of judges and lawyers, and human rights defenders, as well as the UN Working Group on arbitrary detention and the regional human rights office for Southeast Asia, calling for interventions into this case.

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Dear ___________,

MYANMAR: Two MPs convicted in patently flawed case for writing letter to UN

Convicted persons:
1. U Tin Min Htut (a.k.a.) Tin Htut, elected MP for Pantanaw, residing at Yuzana Building, Yetashei New Road, Yetashei Ward, Bahan Township, Yangon
2. U Nyi Pu, elected MP for Gwa, residing in Yahaingkwin Village, Gwa Township, Rakhine State
Primary officials involved:
1. Police Major Ye Nyunt, No. La/127091, Special Branch
2. Police Captain Than Soe, Special Branch
3. Police Captain Aye Naing, External Affairs Department, Special Branch
4. Sub-Inspector Hla Min
5. Sub-Inspector Thaung Tan
6. Sub-Inspector Tin Myo
7. Sub-Inspector Win Kyaw
Charges and trial: Charged under section 4 of the Anti-Subversion Law (The Law Protecting the Peaceful and Systematic Transfer of State Responsibility and the Successful Performance of the Functions of the National Convention against Disturbances and Opposition), No. 5/96; section 33(a), Electronic Transactions Law No. 5/04; section 505(b), Penal Code; Yangon West District Court (Special Court), Felony Nos. 138 & 140/09; sentenced to 27 years’ imprisonment each on 13 February 2009

I am deeply saddened to hear of yet another case of gross injustice and denial of basic civil and political rights in Myanmar, in which two elected MPs have been given long jail terms for writing a letter to the United Nations that was also posted on the Internet.

According to the information that I have received, U Tin Min Htut and U Nyi Pu were accused of preparing the letter of 21 July 2009, signed by 92 elected members of parliament from Myanmar and sent to the United Nations Secretary General and the permanent members of the UN Security Council, which criticized the government’s “road map” for political change and also the UN over the manner of its involvement with Myanmar. The letter was posted on the Internet and five MPs, including the two accused, signed an English translation that was also posted. Thereafter the two were charged with upsetting state stability and peace and damaging national solidarity, as well as with sending and distributing information relating to prevalence of law and order or community peace and tranquility or national solidarity.

There were many grave violations and errors of law in this case that meant that it should not even have proceeded to a conclusion, let alone resulted in the two men being convicted. Among them:

1. Both of the accused was detained arbitrarily: police arrested U Nyi Pu around 2am on 11 August 2008 and U Tin Min Htut in the afternoon of 12 August 2008 whereafter they were both sent to the Aungthapyay Interrogation Camp, a military facility, until the end of September when they were transferred to Insein Central Prison. They were not brought to court until February 2009, in violation of the Criminal Procedure Code, section 61, and making them subject to arbitrary and illegal detention for around six months each.

2. The trials were conducted in a closed court inside the Insein Central Prison in violation of section 2(e) of the Judiciary Law 2000 that hearings be conducted in open court unless otherwise prohibited by law.

3. Neither of the accused was allowed a lawyer, in violation of his right to a defence under section 2(f) of the Judiciary Law, even though the accused signed a Power of Attorney for a Supreme Court advocate to represent them and he came to the location of the trial to conduct the defence, but was not allowed inside.

4. Both of the accused was convicted under the Electronic Transactions Law of sending and distributing the letter online, but the police presented no evidence as to who was responsible for uploading the letter to the Internet.

5. The original letter signed by the MPs was not presented to the court but only a copy of the letter taken from the Internet was presented, which can only be considered as secondary evidence under the Evidence Act (sections 62 through 67) and not in this case proof of an offence upon which to secure a conviction.

That these two accused could be found guilty, and then sentenced to 27 years in prison, in a case so patently full of flaws speaks to the extent to which the justice system in Myanmar has been turned into an “injustice system”. I urge that the government authorities in Myanmar immediately review this case and see that these two persons are released without undue delay in order that a little of that injustice be undone and in order that a little of Myanmar’s international reputation be restored.

Finally, I take this opportunity to call for the International Committee of the Red Cross to again be given access to places of detention throughout Myanmar in accordance with the terms of its established global mandate. After over four years of being denied access to these facilities it is surely time that whatever differences in viewpoint caused the committee to be blocked from carrying out what is seen as its routine work all around the world, in order that the conditions for prisoners in Myanmar be improved and perhaps also some lives be saved.

Yours sincerely


1. Mr. Ban Ki-Moon
Secretary General
Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary General
United Nations
S-378 New York
NY 10017
Fax: +1 212 963 7055 or 2155 (ATTN: SECRETARY GENERAL)
Email: ecu@un.org 

  1. Maj-Gen. Maung Oo
    Minister for Home Affairs
    Ministry of Home Affairs
    Office No. 10
    Tel: +95 67 412 079/ 549 393/ 549 663
    Fax: +95 67 412 439

  2. Lt-Gen. Thein Sein
    Prime Minister
    c/o Ministry of Defence
    Tel: + 95 1 372 681
    Fax: + 95 1 652 624

  3. U Aung Toe
    Chief Justice
    Office of the Supreme Court
    Office No. 24
    Tel: + 95 67 404 080/ 071/ 078/ 067 or + 95 1 372 145
    Fax: + 95 67 404 059

  4. U Aye Maung
    Attorney General
    Office of the Attorney General
    Office No. 25
    Tel: +95 67 404 088/ 090/ 092/ 094/ 097
    Fax: +95 67 404 146/ 106

  5. Brig-Gen. Khin Yi
    Director General
    Myanmar Police Force
    Ministry of Home Affairs
    Office No. 10
    Tel: +95 67 412 079/ 549 393/ 549 663
    Fax: +951 549 663 / 549 208

    Thank you.

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