Myanmar Junta has Arrested Over 40 Lawyers Defending Political Detainees

By Nora Aung 11 July 2022

Myanmar’s military regime has arrested at least 10 more lawyers in the last two weeks who are defending prominent National League for Democracy (NLD) figures and anti-regime protestors, bringing the total number of lawyers detained since last year’s coup to at least 42.

In the most recent case, lawyers Ko Soe Tun Tun Zaw and Ma Aye Mya Yupar from the Tun Law firm in Mandalay were arrested at their office on July 9.

“Their office is opposite Chanayethazan Township court. They were taken from there in private cars,” a fellow Mandalay advocate, who requested anonymity for security reasons, told The Irrawaddy.

He added that the whereabouts of the duo and reason for their arrest remain unknown.

Their detention came just a few days after two other lawyers from Mandalay, Aung Min Thu and Daw Than Than Lwin, were arrested at their homes on July 2.

“They [arrested lawyers] are representing political detainees. I don’t know exactly why they were arrested. Currently, they [regime forces] are targeting lawyers who represent political detainees”, said the Mandalay advocate.

“Lawyers are being arrested continuously, so I have to be very cautious for my own safety,” he added.

On June 29, lawyer Tin Win Aung, who is acting for ousted Mandalay Chief Minister and NLD vice chairman Dr. Zaw Myint Maung in his trial for alleged corruption, his wife and fellow lawyer Thae Su Naing and lawyer Thuta, who represent anti-regime protestors, were arrested leaving Mandalay’s Obo Prison. Their whereabouts remain unknown.

In April, lawyer Ywat Nu Aung, who also represented Dr. Zaw Myint Maung, was also arrested outside Obo Prison.

After weeks of interrogation at a military interrogation center, she was imprisoned and charged under Section 50(j) of the Counter-Terrorism Law for allegedly financing a local resistance group. If found guilty, she faces a jail sentence of from 10 years to life in prison, as well as a fine.

As of July 8, around 40 lawyers have been arrested since last year’s coup, according to rights group the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) which monitors detentions and killings by the junta. Of them, over 30 lawyers remain behind bars and many have been charged with incitement or terrorism.

In Yangon, three lawyers were arrested last week and they remain in the military detention center, according to a Yangon advocate.

In June, three lawyers from Monywa, Moe Zaw Tun, Than Htun and Aung Chan Myae, all of whom are representing detained NLD figures or anti-regime protestors, were also detained.

Moe Zaw Tun was representing ousted Sagaing Region Chief Minister Dr. Myint Naing and Monywa protest leader Wai Moe Naing. He was arrested on June 20 at his home. His whereabouts and well-being is unknown.

An AAPP spokesperson told The Irrawaddy that arrests of lawyers are on the rise as the regime wants to deter lawyers from assisting political prisoners.

“Successive regimes have always cracked down on those who assist political prisoners. For them [regimes], those who assist their opponents are their enemies as well. It is yet more proof that there is no rule of law in Myanmar,” the spokesperson added.