Sunday, December 25, 2011

Supreme Court suspends two lawyer activists

Sunday, 25 December 2011 12:10 Phanida

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Two lawyers in Mandalay have been suspended for three years for allegedly violating the code of lawyer ethics, a move the lawyers say is government retaliation for their political activities.

On December 13, the Supreme Court in Naypyitaw ordered the suspension of attorney Myint Thwin and lawyer Shwe Hla.

Myint Thwin said that he received a notification letter from the Mandalay District Court on December 15.

The letter says: "If a lawyer cannot appear at a hearing, the lawyer needs to arrange another lawyer to represent him or her; if he or she fails to arrange this, they are violating the lawyer code of ethics."

Myint Thwin told Mizzima: "We think that they should not cheat by misusing the law. The authorities, police who brough the prosecution, law officials, judges and law experts need to value human beings and they all need to be well-qualified in the law. Otherwise, it is not good for the country."

He said some employees working in the justice system are not qualified and “among the inferior employees, there are still some who are behaving like it’s the socialist era and the former junta’s era.”

Human rights activists

Both lawyers have represented farmers who sued the companies of the authorities’ cronies for land confiscation, sources said.

Lawyer Myint Thwin helped nine farmers who were arrested after a dispute with the Khithit farm and business cooperative association of Nyaungkon village, Pyinoolwin Township in Mandalay Region for alleged land confiscation by the association.

During the dispute between 31 farmers and the cooperative association, the association sued nine of the farmers for trespass and arson. The farmers sued the company for land confiscation.

Lawyer Myint Thwin also helped 148 farmers from five villages who sued the Yuzana Company for confiscating about 400,000 acres of family owned land in Hpakant Township in Mohnyin District in Kachin State.

The court decided that the Yuzana Company must pay compensation to the farmers but the amount was small, and the farmers have filed an appeal with the Supreme Court in Naypyitaw.

Officials at the Mandalay Region Court told Myint Thwin that if his statements given to the media in interviews violated the law he can be sued, Myint Thwin told Mizzima.

“Some media have conducted interviews with me. But my interviews were not contrary to the laws, so no actions were taken. But, I’m careful,” Myint Thwin said.

Presently, he and his assistants are handling more than 100 cases.

The National League for Democracy (NLD) spokesman, lawyer Nyan Win, said that suspending the two lawyers’ license should be investigated.

“In fact, it’s unusual. For the sake of justice, the person [lawyer,] who is suspended must have the right to defend themselves. A one-sided decision isn’t fair,” Nyan Win told Mizzima.

The licenses of three lawyers have been suspended by the Supreme Court under President Thein Sein’s government. On August 9, the Supreme Court revoked the license of lawyer Tin Aung Tun of Minbu Township in Magway Region, who is a member of Lawyers’ Network formed by NLD. Tin Aung Tun is known for representing farmers disputing the forcible confiscation of their land.

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