Monday, January 19, 2009

Burmese Lawyer Detained - Poe Phyu


As the Burmese regime intensifies its crackdown on dissidents, Poe Phyu, a young Burmese lawyer, who has represented farmers and labor rights activists, was arrested and detained by authorities on Friday.

Thirty-year-old Poe Phyu was arrested by police officers in Aunglan Township in Magwe Division in central Burma soon after defending a group of Aunglan farmers whose lands had been confiscated by Burmese authorities, according to Bo Kyi, joint secretary of the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma).

Poe Phyu, who lives in Rangoon, was arrested while boarding a bus in Aunglan to return home, he said.

Meanwhile, the two labor rights activists Hla Soe and Zaw Htay he defended were also detained after they collectively sent a letter of complaint about their land confiscation to the International Labor Organization, he added.

In October 2008, four defense lawyers—Saw Kyaw Kyaw Min, Nyi Nyi Htwe, Aung Thein and Khin Maung Shein—were sentenced to prison terms of between four and six months for contempt of court after complaining of unfair treatment.

The lawyers had represented political activists, such as members of the 88 Generation Students group, and members of the opposition National League for Democracy.

Recently, one of the four, Saw Kyaw Kyaw Min, 29, who was sentenced in absentia, fled to Thailand.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy, Saw Kyaw Kyaw Min condemned the Burmese court for its lack of justice. There are no fair trials in Burma as defense lawyers are denied the right to defend their clients, he said.

The regime has been using the court to put pressure on activists and dissidents by pronouncing long terms of imprisonment, said Saw Kyaw Kyaw Min.

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