UPDATE (Burma): Case of jailed tuition teacher to go to Supreme Court 


Urgent Appeal Case: UP-030-2006
ISSUES: Arbitrary arrest & detention,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has been informed by the Myint Moe Media Group (Thailand) that next Monday, February 20, the case of jailed tuition teacher U Aung Pe is to go to the Supreme Court of Burma. Although Aung Pe was jailed under on charges of illegal tuition, in fact he was targeted by local authorities ostensibly for teaching politics to his students. The AHRC is concerned that his case will be thrown out of the Supreme Court in the same way that recently happened to an appeal lodged by human rights defender Ma Su Su Nwe.

The AHRC reported briefly on the case of U Aung Pe in an earlier appeal relating to the case of Ma Su Su Nwe (UP-132-2005; see also Ma Su Su Nwe webpage: www.ahrchk.net/susunwe).

U Aung Pe, a 49-year-old teacher, was arrested on 12 February 2005 and charged with giving private tuition classes illegally. On August 25, Aung Pe was sentenced to three years in jail. It is also reported that on September 30 he was beaten up by a jail gang that is being used by the authorities to intimidate prisoners. His appeals in lower courts have been summarily thrown out in the same manner as those of Su Su Nwe.

Aung Pe’s case will be brought to the Supreme Court of Burma on Monday, February 20. Su Su Nwe’s appeal was thrown out by the Supreme Court on February 1 (UP-017-2006). The only recourse left for appeals rejected by the Supreme Court is to apply for a special appeal before the full bench.

Meanwhile, the Myint Moe Media Group sent the AHRC a copy of the August 25 judgment by the Twente Township Court sentencing Aung Pe to jail, as well as his testimony to the court. A complaint that Aung Pe was teaching without a permit was lodged by U Sein Lwin, Twente Township Education Head. Aung Pe had held a permit for two years, but in 2004-05 he did not take one. After he engaged in “political” activities by speaking about independence hero General Aung San and hanging a t-shirt bearing a picture of Aung San’s daughter, democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, he was called to the township council offices on 13 February 2005. He was then taken by a police officer to the district headquarters, where he was questioned. He was returned to the township office and charged that night with illegal tuition under section 23 of the Tuition Law 1984.

In his defence, Aung Pe said that he was giving tuition for free. He had rented a room to teach orphans and underprivileged children who could not pay for tuition outside of school hours. But he had not obtained the permit in 2004-05 because every year the township education authorities change and demand so many “extra fees” to issue permits. He said it should normally cost over 3000 Burmese kyat (USD 2.80) to get the permit, but on top of that there were too many other “charges” that he could not pay, as he was working for free. He admitted to lecturing on Aung San to mark Union Day, which he pointed out is customary for all teachers in Burma, and also hanging the t-shirt of Aung San Suu Kyi, which is not against the law.

However, Judge U Zaw Zaw Thein convicted Aung Pe to three years in prison with hard labour for “having hung a t-shirt bearing an image of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi” while giving lessons, under section 23 of the Tuition Law.


The judgment against U Aung Pe speaks to what has rightly been called the “un-rule of law” in Burma. Although it would have been sufficient for the court to convict Aung Pe of having practiced tuition without a permit, it went so far as to stipulate that the reason for the charges being laid and conviction was the perceived political act of hanging the t-shirt while talking about Aung San, despite the fact that this is of no relevance to the charge lodged against him.

Apart from the case of Ma Su Su Nwe mentioned above, the AHRC has in recent times issued a number of appeals on other cases that speak to the un-rule of law in the country. See for instance: UP-029-2006UA-050-2006UA-044-2006 and UP-008-2006. It has obtained court records and other documentary evidence on numerous other cases and will be releasing appeals on these cases in coming weeks and months.



Please write to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Burma calling for the court to open this appeal for consideration, rather than dismiss it summarily as in the case of Ma Su Su Nwe. Please note that for the purpose of the letter, the country should be referred to by its official title of Myanmar, rather than Burma.

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


Dear U Aung Toe,

MYANMAR: Application to appeal in case of U Aung Pe (a.k.a.) Khin Maung Oo, convicted under Tuition Law (1984)

Details of applicant: U Aung Pe (a.k.a.) Khin Maung Oo, 49yo, son of U Mya Maung and Daw Kyin Aye, bearing National ID Card No. 12-TaTaNa(Naing)021312, private tuition teacher of Kyuntaw Ward, Twente Township, Yangon Division, currently held in Insein Prison, Yangon
Details of complainant: U Sein Lwin, Head, Twente Township Education Board 
Case in first instance: Criminal Case No. 97, Twente Township Court, Judge Zaw Zaw Thein presiding, 25 August 2005, section 23 of the Tuition Law 1984 

I am writing to you to express my concerns regarding the application for appeal against the conviction for giving illegal tuition of U Aung Pe (a.k.a.) Khin Maung Oo of Twente Township, case details as given above. I am informed that the case will be going to the court on Monday, February 20. 

I am aware that Aung Pe was convicted on 25 August 2005 by Judge U Zaw Zaw Thein of the Twente Township Court for "having hung a t-shirt bearing an image of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi" while giving tuition lessons, and sentenced to three years in jail with hard labour. According to some reports, on September 30 Aung Pe was attacked in Insein Prison by a gang called the "Scorpions" that is allegedly being used to intimidate certain prisoners.

While respecting the integrity of the court, I wish to articulate my fear that the case may not get a proper hearing by the court, in view of precedent. 

As you are well aware, the highest court in any country stands as the final bulwark against injustice and in defence of fundamental principles of law, however they be interpreted. It is the last resort, when all other avenues are exhausted, that a person may have within a jurisdiction to obtain redress for wrongs committed against them. 

I therefore feel strongly that it is of great importance that the Supreme Court of Myanmar give due consideration to all applications for appeals that are brought to its attention, as an applicant has no other avenue left at her disposal in the event that the court declines to hear her case, apart from special appeal to the same court.  

In view of the fact that the Supreme Court has in recent times summarily dismissed other legitimate applications for appeal, I urge you as Chief Justice to take responsibility to ensure that this does not happen needlessly, or without due consideration to all aspects of a given case. With regards to the application of U Aung Pe especially, I call upon you to have regard to weigh up the merits of the applicant's petition carefully, and not dismiss it lightly. 

As you will be aware, there is a great deal of national and international attention on this and other cases that are coming to the Supreme Court which speak to the situation of human rights in Myanmar. Everyone following these cases is looking towards the court to defend natural justice, to right wrongs, and to ensure that judgments are based upon sound judicial principles rather than arbitrary and selective decision making. 

Yours sincerely



U Aung Toe
Chief Justice
Office of the Supreme Court
101 Pansodan Street 
Kyauktada Township
Tel: +951 372 249 / 253 066
Fax: 951 250 593 


1. Lt-Gen. Soe Win
Prime Minister
c/o Ministry of Defence
Signal Pagoda Road
Tel: + 95 1 372 681
Fax: + 95 1 652 624

2. U Aye Maung 
Attorney General
Office of the Attorney General
101 Pansodan Street 
Kyauktada Township
Fax: + 95 1 371 028/ 282 449 / 282 990

3. Mr. Patrick Vial
Head of Delegation
No. 2 (C) - 5 Dr. Ba Han Lane
Kaba Aye Pagoda Road, 8th Mile
Mayangone Township
Tel.: +951 662 613 / 664 524
Fax: +951 650 117
E-mail: yangon.yan@icrc.org

4. Professor Paulo Sergio Pinheiro
Special Rapporteur on Myanmar
Attn: Ms. Audrey Ryan
Room 3-090
1211 Geneva 10
Tel: + 41 22 9179 281
E-mail: aryan@ohchr.org

5. Ms Leila Zerrougui
Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
Attn: Mr Miguel de la Lama
1211 Geneva 10
Email: mdelalama@ohchr.org

Thank you. 

Urgent Appeals Programme (ua@ahrchk.org)
Asian Human Rights Commission (ahrchk@ahrchk.org)
Document Type : Urgent Appeal Update
Document ID : UP-030-2006
Countries : Burma (Myanmar),
Issues : Arbitrary arrest & detention,