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.

READ MORE---> Burmese Lawyer Detained - Poe Phyu...

Underground tunnels built at Naypyidaw

(DVB)–The Burmese military has ordered the construction of an underground network of tunnels between Naypyidaw and the town of Pin Laung in Shan state, according to a worker on the site.

According to the construction worker, who worked on the site for about three months, building contractors working for the military’s construction division 3 assembled teams of workers from different part of Burma to dig the tunnels.

"Rumour has it that the construction was for a secret weapons facility and security was very tight around the site," the worker said.

"They were digging a very large tunnel with four main entrances to it. Inside the tunnel there were a lot of different sectors with maze-like paths scattered all around and also some parking lots," he said.

"There were about five groups with about 50 construction workers in each. We often saw North Koreans there, about every five days."

Local residents speculated that the site was linked to a secret weapons project.

"Some people said it is a weapons facility they are building with assistance from North Korean scientists,” the worker said.

“There were about five military checkpoints to pass to get to the site from Naypyidaw,” he said.

“They have also deployed troops and anti-aircraft batteries on the hilltops surrounding the area."

The construction worker said people employed on the project had not been paid for two months and many had struggled with the difficult working conditions.

"They promised us 30,000 kyat a month for our labour but they haven't paid us since November last year and they also kept our ID cards so we can’t leave the site," the worker said.

"Despite that, some people left their ID cards and ran away from the camp as they could not cope with the heavy labour – there were also no proper safety measures or medical assistance apart from a small clinic," he said.

"They didn't provide us with any safety helmet or shoes. Sometime rocks would fall down from the cave roof," he went on.

"On one occasion, two workers died when some explosives went off in a deeper tunnel but they just sent more people into that area to continue the work."

Reporting by Naw Say Phaw

READ MORE---> Underground tunnels built at Naypyidaw...

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