(1) Current Trials of Burmese Democracy Activists
The Burmese military regime have sent democracy activists, arrested during the peaceful protests in August, September 2007 and the following months, before various Township and District Courts for trials since July 2008. Most of the trials are being held inside the Insein Prison Compound in Rangoon and Oo-Bo Prison Compound in Mandalay. Defendants were brought to the Court with hand-cuff and not allowed to meet with their lawyers in the first hearings. Later, they were allowed to meet with their lawyers and their family members were also allowed to attend the Court hearings.
However, since Oct 3, 2008, the authorities stopped allowing family members to attend the trials and moved their prison visits to meet their family members to the weekend, instead of week days. The family members sent a letter to Chief Justice, requesting to re-allow them to attend the hearing, but there is no response from the Chief Justice as of this writing.
Meanwhile, the Court hearings are more and more restricted and unjust. The judges do not allocate sufficient times for the defense lawyers to ask counter questions. The judges refuse the request of the defendants to allow their family members to attend the hearings. The prosecutors demanded the judges to take action against the defendants who asked for their rights. In case of Daw Win Mya Mya and five NLD leaders in Mandalay, the authorities refused to allow the prison officials to testify for the defendants to confirm the date of arrest.
(2) One More Charge for Min Ko Naing and 88 Generation Students Group
Min Ko Naing and 34 members of the 88 Generation Students are facing 21 trials with dozens of charges, which will lead up to over 150 years imprisonment, since August 2008. Their cases were heard by two District Courts and seven Township Courts, held inside the Insein Prison Compound. Since October 15, 2008, all Township Courts handed over the cases to three District Courts, which are Rangoon Eastern District Court, Rangoon Western District Court and Rangoon Northern District Court. These three District Courts are hearing the cases inside Insein Prison Compound. As they are instructed to wrap up the cases by the authorities, the court hearings are held at least two or three days a week.
Last Friday, on Oct 24, 2008, Rangoon Northern District Court held a hearing against Min Ko Naing and group. All student leaders stood up and asked the judge to allow their family members to attend the hearing. Security was very tight. Armed security forces were present outside and inside the Insein Prison Compound and around the Special Court. Further, dozens of armed police stood behind all defendants in the Court room. When the student leaders stood up and demanded for their rights, the police prosecutor asked the judge to take action against the defendants for contempt of the court and the judge instructed the armed police to force them down to sit. Later, the judge decided to adjourn the hearing and instructed the police to remove defendants from the court room. Before they left the room, the judge told them that they would be charged with Section 188 of the Penal Code, for contempt of the court.
Their trial continued on Monday, Oct 27. Many defendants began to withdraw their attorney power from their lawyers, as they believe it is not a fair trial. Some refused to answer the questions of the prosecutors. Security was still tight and the defendants are concerned for their safety. Trial will continue on Wednesday, Oct 29, 2008.
(3) Imprisonment of Seven Monks and Seven Nuns
On Oct 23, 2008, a judge from North Okkalapa Township Court sentenced seven monks and seven nuns four-year imprisonment each with hard labor. They all are from Hantharwaddy School and Thitsa Tharaphu School of the Artharwaddy Monastic University in North Okkalapa Township and were arrested since September 2007 when the security forces raided these Monasteries. They all participated in the Saffron Revolution. Among them were Abbot U Yevada (over 65-year old, from Hantharwaddy), Abbot U Arrnanda (over 60-year old from Thitsa Tharaphu), Senior Nuns from Thitsa Tharaphu School, namely Daw Ponnami (80-year old, partially paralyzed by a stroke), Daw Htay Yi (over 70-year old), and Daw Pyinyar Theingi (64-year old) . They all were charged with Section 295 and 295 (A) of the Penal Code.
Their family members were not allowed to attend the court hearings. Their lawyers were not informed the dates of court hearing and trial continued even with the absence of the defense lawyers many times.
(4) Imprisonment of Six Leaders of NLD from Mandalay Division
On October 24, 2008, a judge from a special court, held inside the Oo-Bo Prison Compound in Mandalay, delivered imprisonments, ranging from 2-year to 13-year to six leaders of the National League for Democracy party’s Mandalay Division Branch. They all were arrested since September 2007, during the Saffron Revolution and detained without trials for almost a year. They were sent before the special court in August 2008. They were charged with Section 153 and 505 (B) of the Penal Code. Their respective sentences are below.
Daw Win Mya Mya (12-year imprisonment) (Female) (Mandalay Division NLD Organizing Committee Member)
U Kan Tun (12-year imprisonment) (Mandalay Division NLD Organizing Committee Secretary)
Min Thu (13-year imprisonment) (Mogok Township NLD)
U Than Lwin (8-year imprisonment) (Mandalay Division NLD Organizing Committee Deputy Chairman)
Win Shwe (11-year imprisonment) (Kyaukpandaung Township NLD)
Tin Ko Ko (2-year imprisonment) (Meikhtila Township NLD)
The police prosecutors presented some audio tapes, private conversation between Daw Win Mya Mya and members of Mandalay Division NLD and US Embassy officials during the lunch at Shwe Be (Golden Duck) Restaurant in Mandalay, as evidences.
(5) Prison Transfer
While the judges are trying to close the trials with heavy sentences, the prison authorities are beginning to transfer the newly imprisoned prisoners of conscience to the remote location, far away from their home Towns.
On October 24, 2008, Khin Moe Aye (a female member of the 88 Generation Students and sentenced a week ago) was transferred from Insein Prison in Rangoon to Myingyan Prison in Mandalay Division. Two other activists, Ye Win and Myint Lwin Oo (aka) Thar Gyi were also transferred from Insein Prison to Pyi Prison in Bago Division.