Sunday, 17 November 2019

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Lawyer in labour case arrested then released on bail

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – A Burmese lawyer who is working on a workers’ rights case was arrested at Ngwe Saung beach for failing to appear in a defamation lawsuit and then released on bail on Monday.

The lawyer, Pho Phyu, is one of the accused in a defamation case filed by the Myanmar Glogon Company. He was arrested for failing to appear before the court on the day of a hearing in the case.

He is one of 10 labour movement activists who helped a female worker from the Myanmar Glogon Company in Dagon Seikkan Township, Rangoon Region, in a case seeking to redress her labour rights, sources said. The company filed a defamation case at the end of last year, but the defendants failed to appear before the South Dagon Township court that issued an injunction order against them on September 6.

Police arrested him on Sunday at about 6 p.m. at Ngwe Saung beach in Pathein Township, Irrawaddy Region.

“Two farmers bailed me out by presenting surety of their assets worth 500,000 kyat (about US$ 650) with original documents of possession,” Pho Phyu said.

The worker, Thida Oo, asked the Myanmar Golgon Company for maternity leave and medical expenses for childbirth, but the company refused her claim and she resigned from her job. Lawyer Pho Phyu and 10 labour movement activists lodged a complaint with the Labour Committee in Dagon Seikkan Township. The company then filed a defamation case against them. The South Dagon Township court heard their case nine times, and they failed to appear before the court four times.

“In the viewpoint of the law, what they did was correct but it will affect the work of labour activists in defending the labour rights of workers in other cases in the future. It will hamper the opportunities on working more for the workers,” lawyer Pho Phyu told Mizzima.

He said that he failed to appear before the court because he was busy and preoccupied with urgent cases of forcible farmland acquisition from farmers in Rangoon and Irrawaddy regions, who he is trying to help in reclaiming their land from the authorities and businessmen.

The next hearing in the defamation case will be held on Friday. The defendants could receive up to 1 year imprisonment and be fined, if found guilty.

Meanwhile, lawyer Pho Phyu submitted a petition signed by about 700 farmers to the Supreme Court in Naypyitaw on August 30, seeking to reclaim farmland in Dagon Seikkan, South Dagon and East Dagon townships in Rangoon Region that was forcibly acquired by businessmen, according to sources.

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