19 November 2008
For Immediate Release
Unlawful Convictions of Burmese Political Prisoners are Crimes Against Humanity -
U.N. Security Council Should Refer Burma to the International Criminal Court
Certain judges in Burma, acting under the orders of Chief Justice U Aung Toe and Senior General Than Shwe, are
themselves criminally liable as co-conspirators to crimes against humanity for their acts in "trying" and "convicting"
60 political activists last week. "These acts are the latest from the junta which uses the judiciary as one of its key
weapons to commit grave crimes," says Global Justice Center President Janet Benshoof. Judges including those listed
below are criminally culpable and must be referred to the International Criminal Court.
Chief Justice U Aung Toe
U Thaung Nyunt, North District Court, Yangon Division
Daw Soe Nyan, U Tin Htut, U Kyaw Swe, and U Sein Hla, Western District Court, Yangon Division
Daw Aye Myaing, Hlaing Tha Yar Township Court, Yangon Division
Daw Than Than, Tamwe Township Court, Yangon Division
Daw Nyunt Nyunt Win, Kyauktadar Court, Yangon Division
Daw Mya Mya Swe, North Dagon Court, Yangon Division
Daw Thiri Tin, Ahlon township Court, Yangon Division
On November 11th approximately forty pro-democracy dissidents received prison sentences of up to 65 years. On November
13th twenty more activists were sentenced to terms ranging from 4 1/2 to 9 1/2 years. The convicted include members of
the '88 Generation Students, labor rights activist Su Su Nway, musician Win Maw, HIV/AIDS activist Than Naing, blogger
Nay Phone Latt, and members of Daw Aung San Sui Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy. Even the defendants'
lawyers were not immune from the regime's revenge; in October defense lawyers Nyi Nyi Htwe, Aung Thein and Khin Maung
Shein were sentenced to between four and six months imprisonment for submitting a complaint about the unfair trial
conditions of eleven NLD activists.
Judges did not allow the defendants to question prosecution witnesses, many defendants did not have legal representation
and those that did were not permitted to meet with their lawyers in private. Burma Lawyers' Council General Secretary U
Aung Htoo stated, "Rule of law in Burma cannot even be dreamt of when the judiciary has become an instrument of
political oppression, exercised by the SPDC military junta."
United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Burma, Tomàs Ojea Quintana, said this past week in reference to
these convictions, "There is no independent and impartial judiciary system [in Burma]." However, the judges actions go
much further; these prison sentences are crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, including
violations of Article 7(1)(e) "Imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental
rules of international law" and 7(1)(h) "Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political,
racial, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender... or other grounds".
GJC President Benshoof noted that top judges in Hitler's criminal regime were convicted as co-conspirators of crimes
against humanity and, more recently, in the Dujail1 decision, the Iraqi High Tribunal found Judge Awad Hamed al-Bandar
jointly criminally liable for crimes against humanity committed with Saddam Hussein because he used the fa of "judicial authority and law" to "try" and then "execute" civilians. Burma Lawyers' Council and Global Justice Center
urge the international community to expose the regime's criminal partnership with members of the judiciary and to join
the call for a UN Security Council referral of all grave international crimes in Burma to the International Criminal
For further information:
Contact: Aung Htoo
General Secretary, Burma Lawyers' Council
Contact: Janet Benshoof, Esq.
President, Global Justice Center
Tel: 1-212-725-6530 x203