International Campaign for Freedom of Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma


Friday, October 31, 2008

Major Trials of Activists Underway in Burma

Dear Friends of Burma,

Many of you have asked us about the incredible trials going on right now in Burma, so we have compiled some information below to share with you. We are closely monitoring the trials and sending information to the United Nations and governments throughout the world.

Detailed information and many photos of the students can be found below, but here is a brief explanation of what is going on: there is a group of courageous young men and women known as the 88 Generation Students who spearheaded the Autumn, 2007 nationwide demonstrations by Burma's Buddhist monks.

After Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi, these student leaders are the most prominent democracy activists inside Burma. Most have been arrested because they encouraged people to participate in peaceful marches calling for change in Burma. They are currently being hauled before Burmese "courts" and are charged with "crimes" that could put them in jail for over 100 years.

Refusing to accept the unfairness of the trials in Burma's court system, which is 100% controlled by the ruling military junta, the 88 Generation Students stood up and actively objected at their trials. Read on to see what happened...

Aung Din, Jeremy Woodrum, Mike Haack, Jennifer Quigley, Jacqui Pilch

Current Trials of Burmese Democracy Activists

(an abbreviated version of a longer report that can be read on our blog, blog.uscampaignforburma.org)

Since July 2008, the Burmese military regime has been sending democracy activists, arrested during peaceful protests in 2007, for trial before various Township and District courts. Most of the trials are being held inside the Insein Prison compound in Rangoon and Oo-Bo Prison compound in Mandalay. Defendants were brought to the court in handcuffs and not allowed to meet with their lawyers in the initial hearings. Later, they were allowed to meet with their lawyers, and their family members were also allowed to attend the courts' hearings.

However, since Oct 3, 2008, the authorities stopped allowing family members to attend the trials and moved their family prison visits to the weekends. The family members sent a letter to the Chief Justice, asking permission to attend future hearings, but there is no response from the Chief Justice as of this writing.

Meanwhile, the court hearings are more and more restricted and unjust. The judges do not allocate sufficient time for the defense lawyers to ask counter-questions. The judges refuse to allow defendants' family members to attend the hearings. The prosecutors have demanded the judges sanction defendants who simply asked for a fair trial. In case of Daw Win Mya Mya and five National League for Democracy (NLD) leaders in Mandalay, the authorities refused even to allow the prison officials to to confirm the date of arrest.

Min Ko Naing and Eight Members of the 88 Generation Students Transferred to Ma-ubin Prison in the Delta

Today (October 31st), the prison authorities transferred Min Ko Naing and eight members of the 88 Generation Students to prisons far from their familes -- nearly a five hour drive. The 88 Students were sentenced to six months imprisonment each on Oct 29 by a judge for "contempt of court". Apparently, seeking a fair trial is considered "contempt" by the Burmese military regime.

On Oct 30, 2008, the Rangoon Northern District Court, held inside the Insein Prison Compound, held a hearing against Min Ko Naing and 22 defendants. Min Ko Naing and eight members of the group were brought before the court with blue colored-prison uniforms while other defendants wore civilian dress (since they were not yet convicted). During the hearing, Min Ko Naing and all the defendants claimed that they have no trust in the court's fairness, and therefore withdrew power of attorney from their lawyers in protest. The next day, the nine including Min Ko Naing, Ko Ko Gyi, Mya Aye, Nyan Linn, Pyone Choe (aka) Htay Win Aung, Aung Thu, Hla Myo Naung, and Aung Naing (aka) Myo Aung Naing were transferred to Ma-ubin Prison with heavy security guards. Ma-ubin is in a region hit by Cyclone Nargis, and conditions are terrible.

On Oct 31, the judges from Rangoon Southern District Court and Northern District Court continued hearings of other members of the 88 Generation Students inside the Insein Prison Compound. Min Ko Naing and the eight were not present in the trials. The regime's prosecutors requested that the judges drop the cases against the nine, and the judges agreed. Instead, it appears that the Burmese military regime is planning to move the cases against Min Ko Naing and the eight to Ma-ubin District Court where it will be very difficult to obtain any information.

Four Farmers, Who Asked the ILO for Help, Arrested, Others in Hiding

The 88 Students are not the only people facing arrest and trial. A group of framers from Aunglan (Myede) and Natmauk Townships in Magway Division wrote to the International Labor Organization (a United Nations agency) office in Rangoon in July 2008, reporting that their farmlands were forcibly confiscated by the military regime. They asked the ILO for help, and shortly thereafter the ILO liaison officer came to their areas to investigate. On Oct 20, the three farmers who signed the letter to the ILO -- Hla Soe, Sein Sating and Nay Lin -- were arrested by the Natmauk Police Station. On Oct 30, another signatory, Zaw Htay was arrested by police in his home in Aunglan (Myede). They were accused by the authorities trying to "defame' the state through their letter. Other farmers, who also signed the letter, are now in hiding to avoid arrest.


(an abbreviated version of a longer report that can be read on our blog, blog.uscampaignforburma.org)

Support 1991 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi and the struggle for freedom and democracy in Burma:

Become a member of the United States Campaign for Burma today.

Or, make a donation today.

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As Daw Aung San Suu Kyi proclaimed,

As Daw Aung San Suu Kyi proclaimed,
"Justice is a dream. But it is a dream we are determined to realize."