By SAW YAN NAING
The Irrawaddy News
Friday, November 7, 2008
Two lawyers representing detained Burmese political activists were sentenced to four months imprisonment for contempt of court on Friday.
One of the two, Aung Thein, told The Irrawaddy he and Khin Maung Shein had been charged after attempting to defend their clients in court.
The two lawyers had earlier withdrawn from court proceedings, complaining that they were being hampered in their defense work.
Aung Thein said the authorities were prejudiced against lawyers defending political activists. Aung Thein represented the prominent Buddhist monk Ashin Gambira, but resigned his brief on October 1, complaining that he was not being allowed to prepare a proper defense.
Gambira was one of the leaders of the demonstrations in September 2007 and is charged with offences connected with his participation in the mass protests.
Aung Thein said justice would win in the end—and quoted Buddhist teaching.
“Ah-dhhamma (injustice) is winning now, but one day dhamma (justice) will win.”
His colleague, Khin Maung Shein, also recently resigned his brief after the court refused to allow him to ask questions on behalf of his clients.
In late October, another defense lawyer, Nyi Nyi Htwe, who represented 11 youth members of the National League for Democracy (NLD), was sentenced to six months imprisonment for disrespect of the court.
Nyi Nyi Htwe and Nyi Nyi Hlaing are among 13 lawyers defending detained political activists, according to the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma).
Nine leading activists, including Min Ko Naing and other prominent members of the 88 Generation Students movement, were sentenced in late October to six months imprisonment for contempt of court.
The Burma Lawyers’ Council in exile released a statement on Friday lamenting the lack of free and fair trials in Burma and complaining that lawyers representing political clients lose their right to freely defend their clients in court.
A court in Insein Prison increased the list of charges against the prominent Burmese labor activist Su Su Nway on Friday, according to her sister, Htay Htay Kyi.
Su Su Nway, winner of the 2006 John Humphrey Freedom Award for her labor rights work, took part in last year’s demonstrations and was charged with “threatening the stability of the government,” under articles 124, 130 and 505 of the penal code. Six new charges had now been added, Htay Htay Kyi said.
In other developments, appeals by six NLD members, including well-known pro-democracy activist Win Mya Mya, against long prison sentences, have been rejected.
Burmese authorities are also apparently ignoring an appeal by NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi against her continuing house arrest. The appeal was lodged in Naypyidaw on October 8, according to her lawyer, Kyi Win, who is still being kept waiting for a response.
Suu Kyi was visited by her doctor at her Rangoon home on Thursday, in accordance with an agreement with the authorities.