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17 March  2009


Arrested in January and charged under the Illegal Association Act


Pho Phyu,

    received 4 years Jail Sentence

by a special court in central Myanmar.



Source    Reuters





Lawyer Pho Phyu, in his early thirties,who is well known for representing political activists in various trials across Burma,  has been sentenced  to four years in prison for defending labour activists who blew the whistle on army seizures of farmland this year.

No official announcement of the sentencing has been made, but legal sources close to the case said Pho Phyu was handed a four-year sentence on March, 17  for alleged links with "illegal organizations" after a trial in which he was not represented by a lawyer. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation by the government.

Pho Phyu, well-known as a political activists' lawyer, is among a handful of lawyers who have defended opposition and labour dissidents in the former Burma, under military rule since 1962. He had been arrested by army units in Magwe Division  in Aung Lan township, on the evening, of 15 January  2009, on his way back to Yangon after representing  labor activists  detained for reporting the seizure of farmland to the International Labour Organization (ILO). He was charged under the Illegal Association Act.



When arrested, Pho Phyu had gone to Aung Lan again to deliver the necessary documents and evidence relating the case for a court hearing. Around 50 farmers reported to the International Labour Organisation office in Rangoon in January, complaining that the army confiscated more than 5,000 acres of paddy fields at Myetyeh-kan and Kyaung-ywalay villages in Natmauk township.  Pho Phyu, had been requested by family members to represent four farmers who were arrested and detained when news of their visit to the ILO reached authorities. One of the farmers, Zaw Htay from Aunglan, was sentenced to 10 years on 23 January with the charge of leaking national secrets for taking photographs of confiscated farmlands.


Previously, Pho Phyu was briefly apprehended by authorities and had his belongings searched on 1 January 2009,  in Nat Mauk township in Magwe when he was preparing for an earlier hearing.


Lawyers defending political and human rights activists have been harassed and intimidated in various ways.  "They are arresting defence lawyers on one pretext or another. These are attempts to intimidate and silence us," said Aung Thein, who was recently freed after four months in jail. Pho Phyu is the fourth activist lawyer to be jailed as part of a wider crackdown on pro-democracy dissidents ahead of the junta's promised general elections in 2010. Young lawyer Nyi Nyi Htway was sentenced to six months in jail by Rangoon Hlaing township court in October with the charge of impeding court procedures.


Another lawyer Kyaw Kyaw Min, who was sentenced in absentia, had fled to the Thai-Burmese border. Lawyer Nyi Nyi Htwe, 27, remains in jail.(See : ).

Two senior lawyers Aung Thein and Khin Maung Shein both in their 60s, were each sentenced to four months' imprisonment last November for contempt of court. They were released on 6 March. (See : ).



According to the Thailand-based Assisting Association for Political Prisoner (Burma), there are a total of 2,128 prisoners of conscience in Myanmar.In recent months, the junta has imprisoned pro-democracy activists in an apparent attempt to clear away dissent before elections promised for next year. Military courts have sentenced hundreds of dissidents to prison terms of up to 104 years.The U.N. human rights envoy to Myanmar, Tomas Ojea Quintana, called on 17th March, for the immediate release of all political prisoners and urged the military to stop using civilians in forced labour.







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