Friday, May 22, 2009

Aung San Suu Kyi in Junta’s Kangaroo Court

By Sai Wansai

The Strategy of One Step Forward, Two Steps Backward

(Shanland) -And so we are back to square one. The Burmese junta on Thursday decided to close the door of its court room, where its conspiracy-ridden, ongoing trial of Aung San Suu Kyi has been taking place.

The court, which is located within the notorious Insein prison compound, allowed 29 diplomats and 10 reporters to have a glimpse of its court proceeding to show that the democracy icon is well treated, whom it has put under house arrest for the most part of her 19 years stay in Burma.

According to Debbie Stothard, co-ordinator of the regional rights network Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma, said Wednesday's move "was definitely a stunt by the regime to stave off pressure so they can proceed with their kangaroo court to jail Suu Kyi."

Sai Wansai

"They wanted to say they are not ill-treating her, so go away. You don't need to see the rest," she said. "It also means the regime doesn't have a strong case against Suu Kyi and has no grounds to proceed."

Either way, it is just a kangaroo court and any amount of show on courtroom trappings of the trial will in no way change the nature of its conspiracy and likely outcome, synonymous to the junta’s preconceived idea of continued detention of Aung San Suu Kyi for as long as it is necessary.

When the British ambassador to Burma, Mark Canning, who observed the trial on Wednesday afternoon said, “I think this is a story where the conclusion is already scripted. I don't have any confidence in the outcome", he might be pinpointing the fact that the “show trial” is, in fact, only credible as a “kangaroo court”.

The whole episode actually stinks and is deeply flawed, substantively and procedurally .

Just consider that John Yettaw had once entered into her compound many months ago. The incidence was reported to the junta but it chose not to take any action, at that time . In fact, the potential security problems should have been taken care of to avoid any such future breaking in. One wonders, why the junta having full knowledge of John Yettaw’s intention would allow him to re-enter the country and let him repeat the break in again, if it is not facilitating or permitting this fishy scheme to take place, so that it could lock up Aung San Suu Kyi for some more years.

The Irrawaddy reported, according to Aung San Suu Kyi’s Washington-based counsel Jared Genser, procedurally, the conduct of the trial has been deeply flawed.

Problems with the trial include, failing to allow Suu Kyi her choice of counsel by revoking the law licence of Aung Thein; failing to provide adequate time for the defense to prepare for a trial; failing to provide a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal. There is no independent judiciary in Burma—the judges take instruction from the junta; failing to provide Suu Kyi a presumption of innocence; and failing to comply with prior rulings of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention that the law under which she was held was itself in clear violation of international law.

In fact, this kind of kangaroo trial scenario has been played out again and again within Burma’s political landscape.

According to Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma), the latest political prisoners count is 2156.

The junta has relentlessly used its draconian “security laws” and sham legal proceedings to charge, prosecute, and sentence to prison terms pro-democracy activists and politicians. The most absurd part of such proceedings have been to dole out ludicrous prison sentences ranging from 79 to 106 years.

Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN) reported on 28 September 2008, that Shan national leaders were charged with treason and defamation of the state, among others.

The case in point is that kangaroo court proceeding is very real and in no way confined to just politicians and democracy activists. In non-Burman ethnic areas, sexual violence, forced displacements, torture, and extrajudicial killings are happening day in and day out, without a slightest hint of ending anytime soon. The tragedy about being indigenous in non-Burman ethnic areas is that the occupying Burma army don’t even need to justify its human rights abuses and wanton-killings by holding a kangaroo trail. It is enough to be suspected of belonging or abetting the armed resistance movements to fall prey to the occupying Burma army. It is as simple as that.

Finally, the junta has been quite well-versed in soothing the hostile international mood by giving in or drawing back a bit to stave off pressures. It has used the same tactics during the Saffron uprising and later the aftermath of cyclone Nargis. Thus, the recent Aung San Suu Kyi’s conspiracy trial is also nothing more than a one step forward, two steps backward move of the junta. Nothing more and nothing less.

Sai Wansai is the General Secretary of the exiled Shan Democratic Union - Editor

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