Monday, 20 January 2020

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Authorities impose tighter controls on lawyers visiting Suu Kyi

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The Burmese junta has imposed tighter restrictions on meetings between opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her lawyers, one of which will in effect extend to a week the lag between a request to consult her and their actual visit to her house in Rangoon.

The Nobel Peace prize recipient and the world’s most prominent political prisoner has been held under house arrest or jailed by the ruling military government under a variety of spurious charges for at least 14 of the past 20 years.

Suu Kyi’s lawyers had needed to submit an application to Special Branch police in Bahan Township for permission to meet their client, the National League for Democracy leader. But from July 10 police told them to submit a request letter to Suu Kyi seeking her consent ahead of any future meetings with her, on top of the usual application.

This new directive meant it would take up to a week, from a previous waiting time of three days,  to meet their client, party spokesman and lawyer Nyan Win said. 

The lawyers are representing Suu Kyi a special appeal against her current sentence and two other cases are lawsuits against the junta.

“I typed a letter that is to be signed by Daw Suu for her consent to meet us. The police will send this letter to Daw Suu and it will be returned to us,” Nyan Win said, using the Burmese honorific for women to refer to Suu Kyi. 

Also, from June 25, Special Branch officers also verbally forbade the lawyers from discussing any matters other than those related to her pending cases, Nyan Win said.

Suu Kyi was reportedly planning to protest against these new directives. Lawyers Kyi Win and Nyan Win met her yesterday for about two hours and discussed her special appeal.

She was given a three-year sentence for “entertaining” US citizen John Yettaw, whose family described as mentally unwell after he twice took it upon himself to swim across Inya Lake to visit her. Following his second amphibious landing, Suu Kyi was jailed for “violating” the terms of her house arrest. Had Yettaw not intervened, her sentence of house arrest would have expired two weeks later. After an international outcry, the widowed opposition leader was released from prison and taken home to serve her sentence of 18 months under house arrest.

Her lawyers presented arguments in her special appeal before a three-judge panel at the High Court in Rangoon. The case will proceed to the Supreme Court in Naypyidaw if the High Court justices give her leave to appeal. 

Meanwhile, Suu Kyi and the NLD party were planning to sue the military junta’s entire cabinet for dereliction of duty to the Burmese people and the nation, the lawyers said.

According to the intended suit, the junta’s cabinet members have failed to fulfill their duties as public servants. The suit will seek an injunction enforcing the defendants to perform their duties and will be filed under sections 45 and 54 of the Specific Relief Act.

The NLD and Suu Kyi filed a similar suit in April but the court promptly rejected it.

Another case filed against the regime under section 42 of the same act by 26 NLD members of parliament elected in 1990 asserts that they are still entitled to stand as MPs as they were duly voted in under electoral laws, and that the declaration voiding the 1990 result was unlawful.


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