Burma: U AYE MYINT – Human Rights Lawyer

Aye Myint, a prominent lawyer from Pegu in central Burma, was released from prison on July 8th, 2006 following intense international pressure and attention, including letters from LRWC. He served 11 months of his seven year sentence

He had been detained for allegedly supplying the International Labour Organisation (ILO) with false information. Aye Myint was representing local farmers whose land had been confiscated by the township authority with help from the army, who then redistributed the land to government-sponsored groups such as the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) and the Myanmar War Veterans Organization. Aye Myint helped the farmers contact Richard Horsey, the Rangoon representative of the ILO. He was accused of forcing the farmers to write a false report to the ILO.

On November 1st, 2005, Aye Myint was convicted by the court in Daik-U Township in Pegu Division, central Burma, under a provision of the Emergency Protection Act-5(E), which is aimed at dealing with domestic unrest. He was sentenced to seven years imprisonment for “spreading false information”.

He was convicted despite testimony from members of local authorities and the USDA that said Aye Myint is innocent of all charges and that he was arrested unlawfully. This was especially notable because these members usually stand on the side of the authorities. “The (prosecution) accusation was totally groundless,” said San Muang, Aye Myint’s lawyer. “It threatens our professionalism.”

Although he has now been released, it is unclear whether his license to practice law will be returned to him. The authorities avoided the obligation to give a judicial statement on whether or not his detention was valid. His license to practice was revoked upon his conviction, but would’ve been restored had the Supreme Court acquitted him. But since he was released under Section 401 of the Criminal Procedure Code, rather than through an outright acquittal, it is not clear as to whether or not he will get his license back. Nonetheless, Aye Mint maintained that he would continue to take on human rights- related cases, with or without a license.


Letter written October 25, 2005 by Paul Copeland

Letter written November 15, 2005 by Paul Copeland

Letter written January 25, 2006 by Paul Copeland