Burmese Authorities Jail Lawyer Saw Kyaw Kyaw Min
Freedom House condemns the August 29th decision by Burmese authorities to jail human rights lawyer and activist Saw Kyaw Kyaw Min, and calls for his immediate release. The decision serves as a clear reminder that despite recent reforms, the situation for human rights defenders in the country remains precarious.
In May 2012, Saw Kyaw Kyaw Min returned to Burma after more than three years in exile. Saw Kyaw Kyaw Min fled Burma to Thailand in October 2008 after charged with contempt under section 228 of the criminal code, a charge that carries a sentence of up to six months in prison. During the 2008 trial of activists charged for their role in the September 2007 Saffron Revolution, three defendants turned their backs to the court in protest of the unfair legal proceedings. Saw Kyaw Kyaw Min and fellow counsel for the activists, Nyi Nyi Htwe, were charged with intentional insult to a public servant after refusing to force their clients to face the judge. Saw Kyaw Kyaw Min was subsequently sentenced in absentia to the maximum allowable penalty.
Despite reforms in Burma over the past year and a half, the country is still ranked Not Free in Freedom House’s Freedom in the World and Freedom of the Press surveys. While recent progress is encouraging, serious human rights concerns remain, including the continued detention of political prisoners, military offensives against ethnic opposition groups, prodigious land grabbing, and a host of other rights violations.