BURMA: Three men charged for harbouring a monk after 2007 protests


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-188-2008
ISSUES: Arbitrary arrest & detention, Freedom of expression, Judicial system, Military, Police violence, Rule of law, State of emergency & martial law,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) regrets to inform you that yet another three persons have been charged over the protests of last September 2007 in Burma. The three are charged with harbouring a monk who was involved in leading the protests, but as in other cases like it, the police have come to the court without evidence, without having themselves investigated the case, and openly admitting that they are testifying on the orders of superior officers.


Kyaw Win Chay, Maung Maung Than Shwe and Aung Hsun Min have been charged with hiding one of the monks at the forefront of last September’s protests. The police arrested them at the end of October and charged them on 20 January 2008.

Their case is running in parallel with that of another three men against whom a variety of charges have been made and about whom the AHRC has already issued an appeal (AHRC-UAC-117-2008). As in that case, there was a lengthy gap between when the men were investigated and first detained and when they were charged in court. As in that case also the police have appeared in court, which is being held inside the central prison, to testify on an investigation that they themselves did not make, instead referring to the work of “combined units”, meaning military intelligence or other authorities. And again as in that case the police have admitted to having no evidence and not actually being involved in the investigation proper, but having come to the court to testify on orders of superior officers whose names they had not been authorised to reveal to the court.

Nor could the police present in the court explain what offences the monk whom the three are supposed to have harboured had himself committed, other than having been a part of the rallies in which tens of thousands of monks and people took part, or give evidence of the fact that he had stayed with the accused or that they knew that he was in hiding, since he was by then wearing ordinary civilian clothes to hide his identity and there was no warrant of arrest out against him upon which the accused could be said to know that he was a fugitive.


The AHRC has been documenting cases of illegal arrest, detention and prosecution since the nationwide protests in Burma last September and has in recent months also issued a number of other recent cases of young women imprisoned under similar circumstances and on similar charges, including the cases of Ko Htin Kyaw (AHRC-UAC-146-2008), U Ohn Than (AHRC-UAC-131-2008), Honey Oo and Aung Min Naing (AHRC-UAC-083-2008), Ko Thiha (AHRC-UAC-052-2008) and Khin Sanda Win (AHRC-UAC-022-2008).

Similarly, it has been following the growing number of arrests and legal actions taken against persons who have launched their own cyclone relief operations since May. See most recently the arrest of human rights defender U Myint Aye and two others: AHRC-UAC-183-2008.

For links and other material on the protests in Burma of August and September 2007 see: http://campaigns.ahrchk.net/burmaprotests/

See also the comprehensive report on Burma: “Burma, political psychosis and legal dementia” issued by the AHRC’s sister organisation and the 2007 AHRC Human Rights Report chapter on Burma.


Please write to the persons listed below to call for the charge against the three men 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.

Please be informed that the AHRC is writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteurs on Myanmar and independence of judges and lawyers as well as the UN Special Representative on human rights defenders, 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: No evidence to support case against three men accused of illegal activities at time of protests

Details of accused: 
1. Kyaw Win Chay, 28, ID No. 11/MaPaTa(Naing)033649, a contractor residing in Narnatdaw Road, Ward 8, Kamaryut Township, Yangon
2. Maung Maung Than Shwe, 24, ID No. 11/PaNhaKa(Naing)047160, a student residing at the same address as Kyaw Win Chay
3. Aung Hsun Min (a.k.a.) Choe Min, 45, 12/ThaHkaKa(Ei)000027, private telephone operator residing at West Myinpainggwin Road, Boe Sein Hman Ward, Bahan, Yangon
Primary officials involved: 
1. Police Captain Myo Thant, No. La/127091, Special Branch, Dagon-seitkan Police Station
2. Inspector Hsan Lwin, No. La/93286, Special Branch
Charge and trial: Charged under section 212 of the Penal Code with harbouring an offender, Felony Case No. 356/2008; New Dagon (Southern) Township Court; heard in special court at Insein Prison, Judge Daw Htay Htay (Special Powers), presiding

I am very disappointed to hear of still yet another three men who have been detained and charged without evidence and with many procedural breaches of law after the demonstrations in Myanmar of last September 2007, and am urging that they be released.

According to the information that I have received so far, Kyaw Win Chay, Maung Maung Than Shwe and Aung Hsun Min have all been charged for allegedly illegally harbouring a monk, U Awbartha (name before entering monkhood Thura Aung a.k.a. Win Aung), who was a leader in the demonstrations. However, like other cases since last September this case too is full of breaches of ordinary criminal law and is completely evidence-less.

To begin with, the men were detained at the end of October 2007 but were not taken to a police station and then brought before a magistrate as required by law (Criminal Procedure Code, CrPC, section 61). Instead they were held incommunicado and the charges framed and presented against them in court only on 20 January 2008.

Then, the case against them has evidently been fabricated by intelligence officials or persons other than the investigating police who have come to the court. A police officer deposing to the court has freely admitted that he did not himself examine the accused and instead had been ordered to testify. He acknowledged that there was no evidence that the monk had actually been harboured by the accused, or that if they had housed him they had known that he was a monk fleeing from the protests, because he was by then wearing civilian clothes to conceal his identity. He did not know what charges had been laid against the monk either, only that there was no warrant out against him at the time that the accused had allegedly harboured him and that he had somehow been involved in the protests along with thousands of others. He said that he had been ordered to come and testify by a superior in the Special Branch but was not at liberty to give the name of that superior to the court. He and other officers have repeatedly said that they were working with “combined units” of officials to make these and other arrests but also have not given any details of the persons or groups in those units to the court.

As in other similar cases that have followed from last September, the police had no material evidence to show the court to prove any of the allegations. Instead they have just pushed detail-free charges into the courts on behalf of other persons and agencies. In light of the patent violations of the procedure law, the lack of evidence presented to the court, and the police officers’ incapacity to answer even the most basic questions about the nature of the alleged offences, I urge that the court close the case and release the accused immediately. In the event that the court itself fails to do so I urge the Supreme Court of Myanmar to give directions to this effect in accordance with its powers as established by the new Constitution of Myanmar 2008.

With regards to the court process itself I also wish to express my dissatisfaction that this and other cases like it are being heard behind closed doors, in this case within the prison itself, which is in violation of the Judiciary Law 2000, section 2(e), and call for any such trials, irrespective of other factors, to be conducted in open court.

I likewise call for the Attorney General to review the case and instruct the concerned law office to withdraw the case from the court as per section 4(b) of the Attorney General Law 2001, and for the Minister of Home Affairs and Director General of Police also to look into the matter both with a view to seeing the case withdrawn and also in order to review the work of their subordinates.

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 and not least of all, access to those persons and forcibly disrobed monks and nuns who have been held in violation of criminal procedure and without charge or trial since the events of last September.

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 (ua@ahrchk.org)