Homecoming NLD Lawyer Jailed for Six Months

Girl with stickers bearing the colors of the National League for Democracy in Rangoon. (Photo: Reuters)

Kyaw Kyaw Min, a lawyer who recently returned to Burma from exile, was sentenced to six months imprisonment for contempt of court after a trial on Wednesday.

Despite an invitation by Burmese President Thein Sein for Burmese exiles to return home, Kyaw Kyaw Min was convicted of delaying the trials of democracy activists he represented in 2007.

“He will be the first person who receives imprisonment after returning to Burma,” said colleague and fellow lawyer Nyi Nyi Htwe. “As the president said that persons with criminal records may serve their punishments, he got the highest sentence despite his case being a setup rather than a crime. We will submit an appeal.”

Twelve clients of Kyaw Kyaw Min and Nyi Nyi Htwe were arrested during a peaceful march to call for the release of democratic icon Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest in August 2007. During the subsequent trial, the group, all members of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, said they did not believe in the Burmese judicial system and sat with their backs to the court.

The judge ordered the lawyers to make them turn around, but Nyi Nyi Htwe said that they had no authority to force their clients to behave in a certain way. Nyi Nyi Htwe was then convicted under Section 228 of the Burmese Penal Code but Kyaw Kyaw Min fled to Thailand before his sentence could be carried out.

Section 228 of the Burmese Penal Code reads: “Whoever intentionally offers any insult, or causes any interruption to any public servant, while such public servant is sifting in any state of a judicial proceeding, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine … or with both”

“It shouldn’t be like this as our clients have already been released during the amnesty,” said Nyi Nyi Htwe. “However, while they say that this is a new government and there are changes, the judicial system remains unchanged.”

He criticized the sentence of Kyaw Kyaw Min and highlighted the contradiction of welcoming exiled Burmese citizens home and removing thousands from the government’s blacklist while still proceeding with this prosecution.

“This simply shows that there are no assurances and guarantees for exiles on their future, safety or dignity despite [the president’s] welcoming speech,” said Nyi Nyi Htwe. “This action might put off exiled people from coming back home. I just would like to tell exiles to think about it seriously.”

In August 2011, President Thein Sein gave a speech that invited Burmese exiles to return home and take part in the ongoing reform process. On Thursday, the government also released the names of more than 2,000 foreigners who had been removed from its blacklist.

4 Responses to Homecoming NLD Lawyer Jailed for Six Months

  1. A Burmese Freedom Fighter

    Since such decision of six-month-jail term to home returning NLD lawyer for being a good lawyer, came from the top of the Burmese Administration, it is quite fair to say that the political will of restoring the Rule of Law in Burma is still very weak and vengeful mind-set of those of military hardliner won’t be quite easy to overcome within near future.

    The people of Burma should not allow to let go of these unjust action taken against this returning lawyer, U Kyaw Kyaw Min; They, military hardliners, can’t walk all over Burmese people no more. We all have to answer the call to stands against lawlessness. The verdict of the court is totally unlawful as its decision was forced to make under the influence of the direct instruction from the top of current administration.

    The Rule of Law will not come from the sky, nor can or should it be dependent on one person, the opportunity of possibility is there right now at this moment, and we all have to grab it because we all are the enforcers of the Rule of Law in Burma. This is a urgent wakeup call that we couldn’t afford to miss it.

    A Burmese Freedom Fighter

    • This regime should be summoned to answer for crimes against humanity. Even amid all the hype that the Hillary Clinton and Obama visit has created , for instance,hailing Burma as an exemplar of a country in transition to democracy: – we still have countless examples that little has changed. Real change can only occur when some hundred generals are trialed at the international court for human rights abuses according to the Hague conventions. In additon ,China should be made to behave according to the majority of votes in the United Nations or be expelled. China for too long has propped up rogue states, such as, Burma. We can only hope that elections in 2015 will provide autonomy for ethnic minorities who are being exploited by the Burmese govt e.g Kachin peoples on one side of the border and the Chinese on the other side. The Chinese govt all the while coaching Burma as it has done for decades in the art of propagating a litany of lies and deception of the basest kind. Enough is enough as the National and international icons of Suu kyi – U Tin OO and more recently U Nyan Win continue to have sham allegations levelled towards them – whenever the regime decides to spin its web of deception. Too many years of foul play means no-one believes their lies and everyone is watching. The generals are scared and they should be – as they continue to abuse the kindnest of Suu Kyi who despite all their human rights abuses and unimaginable cruelty is prepared to offer them amnesty in return for them making amends and working for democratisation of Burma. Lets hope as many people have told me in Burma that the lady becomes the next president – despite the Generals (as told me by one of their assistants) waiting for the lady to die. I say lets move to remove these some hundred generals of their titles and do so swiftly before anyone can truly begint to trust those who rule by stealth.

  2. The president will issue a pardon, I’m sure. But when will the Court stop playing games?!

  3. As long as fake democratic government is running the country, there is no way I will go back to Burma, even a short visit. I just do not want to see military officers in civilian outfits. Fake is fake, Period. I love my birth place but I hate to see the Myanmar soldiers and their bosses..

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