KHUN TUN OO – Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) Chair, SAI NYUNT LWIN – SNLD Secretar, SAI HLA AUNG – SNLD Central Committee Member, SAO KYAR OO – SNLD Member, U MYINT THAN – Shan New Generation Youth Member, GENERAL HSO TEN – Shan State Peace Council (SSPC) Chairman, U SHWE OHN – United Nationalities League for Democracy Leader, Lawyer and Author
On February 8, 2005 U Shwe Ohn was placed under house arrest. On February 9, 2005 Khun Tun Oo, Sai Nyunt Lwin, Sai Hla Aung, Sao Kyar Oo, U Myint Than and General Hso Ten were all arrested. All of those arrested are members of political organizations representing the Shan ethnic minority; most were senior members of these organizations. Myanmar’s Information Minister, Brigadier General Kyaw San, has told reporters that the men arrested on February 9 are being held in Insein Prison in Yangon and are facing charges of conspiracy against the state; if convicted the men will face the death penalty. U Shwe Ohn remains under house arrest and has not been charged. The trials, which are being conducted behind closed doors by tribunals at Insein, have been on going since the men were detained.
The Information Minister claims the charges to stem from a meeting of Shan politicians on February 7, 2005, during which the government alleges they created an illegal organization. The men are also facing charges relating to the illegal establishment of an organization and for violations of the Publishing Act.
LRWC is gravely concerned for the safety of these individuals and troubled by reports that these men are being denied access to defence council. These reports were refuted by the Information Minister. However, he did not expressly state that the men did have legal representation, saying only that the “trials were being conducted according to prevailing laws”. These reports should be taken very seriously in light of the severity of the punishment the men face if convicted. LRWC has written Senior General Than Shwe at the Ministry of Defence addressing many of these concerns, but this was prior to LRWC’s receipt of the information related to the charges and penalties facing the men.
Letter Written March 8, 2005 by Paul D. Copeland