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7 November 2008


Two more defence lawyers prosecuted

U Aung Thein

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Khin Maung Shein

representing NLD party members

handed down four month's prison sentence   for "contempt of court".

On 11 Novermber, U Aung Thein was transferred to Insein prison then transferred again far from Rangoon  Bassein Prison


Source : DVB and





U Aung Thein and U Khin Maung Shein – two senior Burmese lawyers and human rights defenders were arrested in Rangoon on November 7, 2008 Defence lawyers U Aung Thein and U Khin Maung Shein each have been handed down four month's prison sentence   for 'contempt of court'.

The sentence was passed in their absence after the judge of Rangoon Hlaing township court reported the alleged violation to the supreme court yesterday, U Aung Thein told DVB from his office in Rangoon.

"I am waiting for the police to come and take me to jail, with my baggage and medicines at the ready, as there is no medicine in prisons. I'm ready when the police are."

When asked why the judge accused them of contempt of court, he explained:

"Our clients verbally notified Hlaing township judge that they have no faith in court proceeding and do not want to be tried anymore."

"He insisted the defendants must not communicate with him directly but through their lawyers. So we just said to him what our clients asked and withdrew our representation. If we are found guilty of contempt of court for doing this, then, let it be."

U Aung Thein insisted that the sentence is unjustified but would face the consequences for defending political activists.

 According to the latest report, the special branch police are yet to come and take U Aung Thein to prison and he had gone home from his office for the night. On 11 Novermber, U Aung Thein was transferred to Insein prison then transferred again far from Rangoon  Bassein Prison


Among the clients of U Aung Thein and U Khin Maung Shein are prominent leader of 88 generation students, Min Ko Naing and the monk-leader of 2007 saffron revolution, Ashin Gambira.

They were prosecuted for submitting a letter to court on behalf of their clients on November 6 in which they have communicated the wish of their clients to withdraw the appearance of the lawyers on their behalf because the clients decided that they did not have confidence in the court. The lawyers have informed their withdrawal to the court orally and the court ordered that it be given in writing. In compliance with the court instructions the lawyers stated the wish of their clients in writing and this was construed as contempt of court and the two of them have been sentenced to a term of four months, rigorous imprisonment.


After the clients withdrew their consent to be represented by the two lawyers they had no authority to represent the clients and it was their duty to inform the court of their withdrawal. There was no basis at all for any contempt of court charges.

There were no charges leveled, inquiry or trial held before the two lawyers were sentenced to four months. In fact they were not even informed of any charges or a trial. The entire process has been without any due process and without respect for the rights of an accused in criminal proceedings.

The two lawyers and several others represent a new interest among some of the lawyers to provide proper legal services to their clients and to go against the well entrenched habits of subservience and intimidation before courts which have been the general characteristics in the Burmese courts due to the extremely repressive actions of the military regime. The military regime expects the courts to be a rubber stamp and also to serve the purpose of intimidating the population.



The role of the lawyer is essential for the defence of the rights of people. Article 14 of the ICCPR guarantees the right of representation to all accused. For a long time in Burma the independence of the legal profession has been suppressed. Under these circumstances the rights of lawyers need to be considered as a matter of the highest priority in the protection of human rights defenders. It is simply not possible to defend anyone if the legal profession itself is crippled as is happening now in Burma.

We therefore urge you to take up these two cases of U Aung Thein and U Khin Maung Shein, the two senior lawyers who are now serving a sentence of four months in blatant contravention of the protection that is due to them as professional lawyers and human rights defenders.

For further details kindly see the AHRC statement: BURMA: Two rights lawyers imprisoned for contempt of court at


Action requested:


Please write to the Burmese authorities urging them to:

  1. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr Aung Thein and Khin Maung Shein ;
  2. Release Aung Thein and Khin Maung Shein immediately and unconditionally since his detention is arbitrary as it merely aims at sanctioning his human rights activities;
  3. Put an end to all acts of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Mr. Aung Thein and Khin Maung Shein as well as against all human rights defenders in Burma;
  4. Conform with above-mentioned Article 1 of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, as well as with Article 12.2, which states that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the [...] Declaration”;
  5. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Burma.



  • Mr. Aye Maung, Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General, 101 Pansodan Street, Kyauktada Township, Yangon, Myanmar, Fax: + 95 1 371 028/ 282 449 / 282 990
  • Lt Sein Thein, Prime Minister, c/o Ministry of Defence, Signal Pagoda Road, Yangon, Myanmar, Tel: + 95 1 372 681; Fax: + 95 1 652 624
  • Minister for Home Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, No. 10 Naypyidaw, Myanmar; Tel: +95 67 412 040/ 069/ 072; Fax: +95 67 412 016/ 439; E-mail:


Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Burma in your respective countries.





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