The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has been informed of an ongoing case in Burma in which four men are being tried for having stickers of Aung San Suu Kyi. The men were arrested without basis and it was reportedly only after entering their houses that the police seized the stickers and accused them of having stuck them up in public and caused a disturbance, even though they had no proof.
According to the details of the case that the AHRC has obtained so far, on the night of 12-13 June 2009, two police and local officials arrested Aung Aung Oo (31), Bo Htun (36) and Kyaw Myo Naing (21) in Bahan, Rangoon. A companion managed to get away. The police took the three back to their houses where they allegedly found stickers with photos of democracy party leader Aung San Suu Kyi and some other materials. Later, the police claimed that they had taken the stickers from the three on the roadside, although persons familiar with the case deny this. The police records also are faulty, suggesting that they did not find the materials on the men as they said they did, because they were not filled out correctly: although they should have taken witness signatures at the place of arrest on the search and seizure forms, the signatures were taken at the district police station. Furthermore, the signatories were also government officials, not independent witnesses at all.
After the accused were detained, the police opened a case against them over an alleged bombing, completely unrelated to the pretext for their arrests. At the opening and subsequent hearing, neither the families nor lawyer of the accused were able to get access to the trial. Prosecution witnesses were not cross-examined. At a subsequent hearing, suddenly the police changed the charge to one of causing fear and alarm in the public, which is a “catch all” section of the law used when the police cannot come up with anything with which to charge the defendants. As of August the case was ongoing. The accused face two years’ imprisonment for this offence.
The 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: http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/search.php. Some recent cases include the life-imprisonment of a human rights defender and two other men over an alleged bomb plot (AHRC-UAU-018-2009), the killing of a young man in local council custody (AHRC-UAC-082-2009), the lengthy imprisonment of two elected MPs for writing a letter to the UN (AHRC-UAC-074-2009), the revocation of two lawyers’ licences for merely acting on the wishes of their clients in accordance with the law (AHRC-UAC-062-2009), and the case against Aung San Suu Kyi and three others (AHRC-UAC-060-2009; AHRC-STM-169-2009).
Two special reports 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 2008 AHRC Human Rights Report chapter on Burma.
Please write to the persons listed below to call for the case against Aung Aung Oo and his co-defendants to be dropped. 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 Yangon rather than Rangoon.
Please be informed that the AHRC is writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteurs on Myanmar and on freedom of expression, 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
MYANMAR: Four men tried for having stickers of Aung San Suu Kyi
Details of victims:
1. Aung Aung Oo (a.k.a. Aung Kyi), 31 years old, resident of Myinpyaingwin Road West, Tamwe Kyi Ward (B), Tamwe Township, Yangon
2. Bo Htun (a.k.a. Kyaw Win Htun), 36 years old, resident of Myinpyaingwin Road West, Kyaikkasan Ward, Bahan Township, Yangon
3. Kyaw Myo Naing, 21 years old, resident of Zatila Road, Ma-hlwagon Teikywe Ward (A), Tamwe
4. Htun Lin Kyaw (escaped)
1. Deputy Inspector Ye Min Aung, Serial No. La/195942, Bahan Police Station (prosecuting officer)
2. Police Sergeant Aung Naing, Bahan Police Station (arresting officer)
3. Police Corporal Hlaing Min Aung, Bahan Police Station
4. U Khin Nyunt, Chairman, Kyaikkasan Ward Peace and Development Council (PDC), Bahan Township
5. U Soe Tint, Member, Saya San South Ward, Bahan Township
6. U Tin Myint, Hundred-household head, Kyaikkasan Ward, Bahan
7. U Tin Wei, Chairman, Bo Sein Hman Ward PDC, Bahan
8. Inspector Soe Moe Aung, Station Commander, Tamwe Police Station
9. U Aung San Kywe, Chairman, Tamwe Kyi Ward (B) PDC, Tamwe Township
10. U Kyaw Min Oo, Chairman, Ma-hlwagon Teikywe Ward (A) PDC, Tamwe Township
Charges & trial: Penal Code section 505(b), Felony No. 442/09, Bahan Township Court, Judge Khin Maung Htay (Special Power) (Serial No. Ta/2277) presiding
I am disturbed to hear of a case against four men in Myanmar for which they could be imprisoned for a period of two years because of allegedly having had some stickers in their possession.
From what I have learned, according to the official record around 12:15am on 13 June 2009, Police Sgt Aung Naing and Police Cpl Hlaing Min Aung with ward officials U Khin Nyunt and U Soe Tint encountered the four accused on the road in Bo Sein Hman Ward and apprehended three, with the fourth having escaped. They claim to have taken from the three 14 stickers with Aung San Suu Kyi’s photograph and one with a line calling for her release. They also claim to have removed around another 12 stickers from walls in the vicinity. Thereafter they went to the houses of the accused and recovered other allegedly politically sensitive materials.
In fact, according to persons familiar with the case, the police did not recover any evidence against the accused when they arrested them on the street, in the evening of June 12. It was only after they went to the houses of the accused that they recovered the stickers and other items. That this is apparently the case is supported by the police documents themselves, which record the “witnesses” to the recovery of the stickers and other items as having signed the search and seizure record not at the place of arrest or at the houses of the accused but at the Yangon Western District Police Station. Nor were these so-called witnesses independent witnesses at all but were also local government officials.
After the accused were detained, on June 25 the police obtained remand to investigate them further, not over stickers but over an arms offence related to a bombing case. On this date neither the families nor lawyer of the defendants were able to attend the hearing. On July 21 suddenly the charge was changed from the arms offence to one of causing public fear and alarm. Again neither family nor the lawyer was allowed inside and so there was no cross-examination of the prosecution witnesses, all of who are police and officials. The hearings have continued into August.
I am concerned that this is another case in Myanmar where persons who have committed no offence will nonetheless be imprisoned because the authorities are determined to have it that way. I am aware that aside from the obvious flaws in the case identified above, the police have no evidence to show that the accused had stuck the stickers up in public, which is the minimum requirement to secure a conviction under section 505(b). Accordingly, I urge that the Township Law Office concerned at once review the case and drop the charges against the accused and that the responsible authorities take the necessary steps to see that the matter is laid to rest and the accused are allowed to go free.
Finally, I take this opportunity to remind the Government of Myanmar of the need to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross access to places of detention, in accordance with its globally recognized mandate, without any further delay.
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:
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
c/o Ministry of Defence
Tel: + 95 1 372 681
Fax: + 95 1 652 624
3. U Aung Toe
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
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
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
Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) (email@example.com)