Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Regime’s Hollow Talk of Justice and the Law

The Irrawaddy News

"No one is above the law." The famous prosecution statement is used repeatedly and blissfully by the Burmese junta's senior officials these days.

Stung by global outrage and criticism, including from its closest neighbors in Southeast Asia, the Burmese junta has launched a diplomatic offensive against mounting international pressure to release democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and halt her unfair trial.

Foreign Minister Nyan Win, his deputy Maung Myint and Deputy Defense Minister Maj-Gen Aye Myint, attending separate meetings in the region, urged governments not to interfere in their "internal affair."

In the latest statement, on Sunday, Aye Myint said at the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual forum of defense ministers, academics, experts and analysts, organized by Singapore’s International Institute for Strategic Studies, that Suu Kyi was charged because she allowed a foreigner to stay in her house, communicated with him and provided him food and shelter instead of informing the police.

"It is the universal legal principle that no one is above the law," he declared, adding that the police noted that Suu Kyi "committed a cover-up of the truth by her failure to report an illegal immigrant."

Consequently, he said, “there was no option but to proceed with legal proceedings."

It is absurd to contemplate that, without committing any violation of any law, Burma's detained Nobel Peace laureate will probably be found guilty of harboring an American who swam across a lake to her residence. She faces up to five years in prison.

Suu Kyi had been a prisoner in her own home, held there under tight security. If that security had been adequate, no intruder could have entered her property. Until now, however, no action has been taken against any security officials.

Instead, the regime is using Burmese "law," which specifically prohibits unannounced foreign guests, to claim that Suu Kyi and her two live-in party supporters and companions, Khin Khin Win, and her daughter, Win Ma Ma, violated the terms of her house arrest and to put them on trial.

The military authorities charged them under Section 22 of the State Protection Act, which states, "any person against whom action is taken, who opposes, resists, or disobeys any order passed under this Law shall be liable to imprisonment for a period of from three years up to five years, or to a fine of up to 5,000 Kyats, or to both."

According to Suu Kyi's lawyers, the law dates back to 1975 and was part of the 1974 constitution, which was invalidated when the military seized power in 1988. Furthermore, under the junta’s “seven-step road map,” the country approved a new constitution in May 2008 by national referendum, which would also invalidate the 1975 act.

Although ordinary courts now handle high-profile political cases following the abolition of military tribunals in 1992, the hearings are held under heavy military influence.

It is very common for the Supreme Court to appoint judges after approval by the Naypyidaw regime. There are courts at the township, district, state, and national levels.

The junta has used laws such as the Emergency Provisions Act and the Unlawful Associations Act to crack down on dissent. Human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and the United Nations have accused the junta of holding unfair trials and arbitrary imprisonment, as well as use of torture and summary execution.

The law in Burma emanates from the barrel of a gun. Although they shamelessly speak about the "law," the regime's officials have no idea about how to follow its rules and regulations. Lawyers point out that Suu Kyi is described as "an offender" even though the court has yet to pass judgment.

It is outrageous to see our justice and judiciary system destroyed by a power-hungry regime and it’s sad to see how Burma’s citizens are denied their basic rights by force of arms.

Recent Posts from Burma Wants Freedom and Democracy

Recent posts from WHO is WHO in Burma


The Nuke Light of Myanmar Fan Box
The Nuke Light of Myanmar on Facebook
Promote your Page too