BURMA: Monk falsely accused of planning to set fire to himself


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-110-2009
ISSUES: Arbitrary arrest & detention, Judicial system, Military, Rule of law, State of emergency & martial law, Torture,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has obtained detailed information about the case of a monk in Burma who is being tried without evidence for insulting religion. The monk, U Sandadhika, went like other onlookers to the outside of the court where Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her co-defendants were being tried in August. Afterwards a group of unidentified men picked him up and took him into custody where they accused him of planning to immolate himself in protest. They have no evidence to back the charge and the only witnesses in the case, which is continuing, are police. The detainee has been forcibly disrobed and assaulted in custody, resulting in a hernia.


U Sandadhika went to nearby the central prison on 11 August 2009 to meet with people who had gathered to await the verdict in the case of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and three others. The 36-year-old told relatives that as he was leaving the area a white car pulled up alongside him with three unidentified men inside. One of them told him that they had an offering of a drink to give him, but he replied that he had already taken his meal for the day and that it was unnecessary. Then they said that they had some things to ask him and told him to get in the car.

The men took Sandadhika to the Rangoon North District police premises where at least two police assaulted him with a bamboo rod, causing him to have a hernia and suffer other injuries. (Full details of the alleged perpetrators are included in the sample letter, below, as usual.) Thereafter they took him to be forcibly disrobed.

The police opened a criminal case against Sandadhika for allegedly insulting religion because, they claim, he had intended to burn himself in protest at the conviction of Aung San Suu Kyi. But under cross-examination in court they admitted that they have no evidence at all to support the claim: they did not find any kerosene or other materials on the defendant or elsewhere to suggest that there is any truth to it. They do not even have any independent witnesses: all of those deposing against the accused are police.

The trial is continuing on September 3.


The AHRC has been documenting numerous cases speaking to what it has described as Burma’s “injustice system” and provided a range of links on these in its most recent prior urgent appeal, on the case of Aung Aung Oo and his fellow defendants: AHRC-UA-107-2009. In the aftermath of the September 2007 monk-led protests it also followed the cases of monks and nuns tried and imprisoned over those events, including U Gambira (AHRC-UA-248-2008). At the time of the protests it set up a website that has a variety of relevant resources and topics: http://campaigns.ahrchk.net/burmaprotests/

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 U Sandadhika 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 torture, 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: Monk falsely accused of planning to set fire to himself

Details of accused: U Sandadhika, a.k.a. Nyi Nyi Lwin/ Nyi Nyi San, 36, monk of the Daysunpar Temple, Laygyunmandaing Monastery, Bago, Myanmar
Police officers involved: 
1. Inspector Zaw Pone Win, Serial No. La/167400, Yangon Division Police Headquarters (prosecuting officer)
2. Deputy Inspector Kyi Khaing Kyaw, Serial No. La/176001, Yangon Division Police HQ (witness & alleged torturer)
3. Deputy Inspector Hla Kyaw Oo, Serial No. La/168797, Yangon North District Police HQ (witness)
4. Deputy Inspector Aung Myint Thein, Serial No. La/148152, Insein Township Police Station (witness)
5. Inspector Kyaw Sein, Yangon North District Police Headquarters (alleged torturer)
Charges & trial: Penal Code section 295A, insulting religion; Felony No. 507/09, Bahan Township Court, Judge Daw Toe Toe Yein (Serial No. Ta/2270, Assistant Township Judge 1, Special Power) presiding

I am very sorry to hear of yet another evidence-free case against someone in Myanmar, this time against a monk who was forcibly disrobed and assaulted while in custody, causing him to have a hernia.

From the details that I have been given, U Sandadhika went to nearby where the hearings in the case of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and three other defendants were taking place at the Central Prison, Insein Township, on 11 August 2009. There three men in an unmarked vehicle picked him up and took him to the Yangon North District Police Headquarters, where he was assaulted with a bamboo rod, causing injuries including the hernia, which he has shown to the prison hospital.

The police accused him of having had a plan to self immolate as an act of protest, but Sandadhika has denied this and the police have since admitted in court that they have no material evidence to prove the allegation. They had him forcibly disrobed and charged in court with insulting religion. However, aside from not having material evidence to present, the police also had no independent witnesses and have listed only four police officers to appear against him.

I am deeply concerned that despite the lack of evidence and allegations of torture in this case, the accused will nonetheless be convicted on spurious and politically directed grounds. I urge that this not be the case and that the Township Law Office concerned at once review the case and drop the charges against the accused or that the responsible authorities otherwise take the necessary steps to see that the matter is laid to rest and that the accused is 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, including to all those monks and nuns imprisoned in the aftermath of the September 2007 protests, and to ensure that all prisoners obtain appropriate medical treatment for ailments suffered, such as those of U Sandadhika caused by the torture that he allegedly suffered.

Yours sincerely,



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)