Thursday, 14 November 2019

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Handcuffing of Burmese-American in court protested

New Delhi (Mizzima) – The lawyer of detained Burmese born American, Kyaw Zaw Lwin (alias) Nyi Nyi Aung, said he had objected to handcuffing the accused during the trial and had submitted an objection letter, but it was rejected by the court.

Kyi Win, one of the defence attorneys of the Burmese-American, on Friday told Mizzima that Kyaw Zaw Lwin has been handcuffed during the court sessions, which he said was against Burma’s law.

“I have submitted an objection letter, but it was rejected and he [Kyaw Zaw Lwin] continues to be handcuffed during the session,” said Kyi Win, adding that Kyaw Zaw Lwin was handcuffed on Friday, where five prosecution witnesses were cross-examined at Rangoon’s notorious Insein prison.

According to the veteran lawyer, who earlier this year co-defended detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s law does not permit an accused to be handcuff unless there is any special exception.

“Besides, the Presidential decree 4/77, which is known as the handbook for the courts, also prohibits such practice,” Kyi Win said.

While there are no technical complications in handcuffing the accused during the trial, Kyi Win said, it indicates the level of rule of law prevailing in the courts in Burma.

“It’s not that there is any problem in handcuffing Kyaw Zaw Lwin, but it looks odd for the court and the whole proceeding. Since there is no threat of his [Kyaw Zaw Lwin] escaping, as the proceedings are being conducted inside the well-guarded prison, they should simply abide by the Presidential decree,” he added.

The Judge of Southern District court in Insein prison, after hearing five witnesses on Friday adjourned the court fixing the next hearing of prosecution witnesses for December 4.

Kyaw Zaw Lwin, a naturalised American citizen, was arrested on September 3, and charged under provisions of the Burmese law related to fraud, possession of counterfeit documents, and failure to declare money on customs forms.

The U.S embassy in Rangoon told Mizzima that it is following the case closely as it takes seriously the obligation to safeguard the welfare and interests of Americans abroad.

An official at the embassy said, it has repeatedly made clear to the Burmese government that they must respect Kyaw Zaw Lwin's rights and the international conventions concerning the treatment of foreign prisoners. 

“We will continue to do all we can to assure that Kyaw Zaw Lwin is treated fairly and well,” said the official, adding that so far they have been granted regular access to the detained Burmese-American and had met him five times.

The Burmese-American, as a student had actively participated in the nation-wide 1988 protests led by students. He was forced to flee to neighbouring Thailand along with fellow students following the junta’s crackdown.

He was later resettled in Maryland in United States, where he was naturalised as a citizen.

Both his mother and sister were also arrested and are currently serving time in Burma’s prisons, for their activism.

Some information provided by Salai Han Thar San


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