MMR 001 / 1206 / OBS 147
Arbitrary detentions / Sentencing
December 11, 2006
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Myanmar.
Brief description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informed by the Burma Lawyers Council about the arbitrary detention and sentencing of Messrs. Ko Win Ko and Phyoe Zaw Latt, both human rights activists in Moenyo Township, Bago division, central Burma.
According to the information received, on October 6, 2006, Messrs. Ko Win Ko and Phyoe Zaw Latt were approached by a dozen policemen and members of the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA, an organisation under the control of the military regime) at Letpadan train station. Both men were travelling to bring a petition calling for the release of a group of political prisoners, arrested at the end of September 2006 to the military government in Rangoon.
Messrs. Ko and Phyoe were both searched, and when the police found the petition, the two men were arrested and brought to Letpadan Township police station. Two USDA members claimed they had found some illegal lottery tickets stubs in Mr. Ko’s bag and the latter was then charged with “resisting arrest” (section 353.2 of the Penal Code) and “illegal gambling” (section 15a and 16a of the Gambling Act), while Mr. Phyoe Zaw Latt was detained without charges.
On October 19, 2006, Mr. Ko’s lawyer went to the Court as a hearing was scheduled in his client’s case. However, when arriving, he was informed that Mr. Ko had already been sentenced to three years of imprisonment on the day before.
On October 22, 2006, Mr. Phyoe was released on a good behaviour bond, but almost immediately rearrested while going back home.
On the same day, the two activists were charged for “deceit” and “forgery”, under sections 420, 465 and 468 of the Penal Code.
On November 9, 2006, Messrs. Ko and Phyoe were both sentenced to 14 years in prison by the Tharawaddy Township Court on the above-mentioned charges, without being represented or assisted by a lawyer and following a summary hearing. Their families had not been informed of the hearing.
The Observatory strongly condemns these arbitrary detentions and sentencing, which follow a blatantly unfair trial, and expresses its deep concern regarding the fact that, since their arrest, Messrs. Ko and Phyoe have been repeatedly moved from one prison to another, making it very difficult for their families and lawyers to visit them. Indeed, although Mr. Phyoe was able to be visited by some relatives on November 29, 2006, none of the detainees has been allowed to meet with a lawyer.
Please write to the Burmese relevant authorities and ask them to:
- take all necessary measures to guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of Messrs. Ko Win Ko and Phyoe Zaw Latt;
- ensure their immediate release, as their conviction and subsequent detention is arbitrary;
- Put an end to any kind of reprisals against human rights defenders in Myanmar;
- comply with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or collectively, to promote the protection and fulfilment of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, as well as article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually or 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 present Declaration”;
- guarantee the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and other international human rights instruments ratified by Myanmar.
Please write to the relevant Burmese authorities, urging them to:
- 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-Gen. Soe Win, Prime Minister, c/o Ministry of Defence, Signal Pagoda Road, Yangon, Myanmar, Tel: + 95 1 372 681; Fax: + 95 1 652 624
- Maj-Gen. Maung Oo, 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: email@example.com
- Brig-Gen. Khin Yi, Director General, Myanmar Police Force, Saya San Road, Yankin Township, Yangon, Myanmar, Tel: + 95 1 549 196/ 228/ 209; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
- Ambassador Mr. Nyunt Maung Shein, Permanent Mission of Myanmar to the United Nations in Geneva, 47 avenue Blanc, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland, Tel: + 41 22 906 98 70; Fax: + 41 22 732 89 19; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Embassy of Myanmar in Brussels, 9 boulevard Général Wahis, 1030 Schaerbeek, Brussels, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 705.50.48.
Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Myanmar in your respective countries.
Geneva - Paris, December 11, 2006
Kindly inform the Observatory of any action undertaken quoting the code number of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of human rights defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.
The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
Tel and fax: FIDH : +33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 / 33 (0) 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT : + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 (0) 22 809 49 29
Email : Appeals@fidh-omct.org
 Messrs Min Ko Naing, Ko Ko Gyi and Htay Kywe were arrested on September 27, 2006 and Messrs. Min Zeya and Pyone Cho on September 30, 2006. All five are former members of the “88 Generation Students Group”, which organised pro-democracy rallies throughout the late 1980’s, and well-know supporters of the National League for Democracy (NLD), a pro-democracy party. They were charged for “inciting political instability” and “propagation of a terrorist ideology”.