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UPDATE (Burma): New fraudulent criminal case lodged against released human rights defender 19.02.

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[RE: AHRC-UAC-235-2008: BURMA: A woman harassed and jailed for making complaints
Printer against local officials]
Friendly ---------------------------------------------------------------------
Version BURMA: New fraudulent criminal case lodged against released human rights defender

ISSUES: Rule of law; military government; judicial system


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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received news that a human rights
defender who was released from jail in September is facing a new criminal trial under
the same charges. She served more than a year in jail because of complaints she made
against local officials, but is facing another trial along with her husband under the same
charges and before the same judge as the previous case.

CASE DETAILS:

In our previous appeal on behalf of Ma Sandar (left), the


AHRC described how she was imprisoned for one year and
one month in August 2008 in a concocted case – revenge
for her having made complaints about official corruption.
She was released along with many other prisoners last
September after having served her sentence, although the
military regime in Burma gave the appearance that those
released were being let out early due to its goodwill.

Ma Sandar and her husband have now been made the


target of a new fraudulent legal action, seemingly because
of her refusal to be complaisant to local authorities.

The case has been built out of an incident from November


2009, less than two months after Ma Sandar’s release. A
young woman known to the couple was involved in a
vehicle accident and went to the township hospital in their
area of Rangoon for treatment, and to get a police form for
legal purposes. At the hospital two nurses allegedly demanded money from her, first for an x-
ray and then for medicine to relieve the pain of her injury, and when they didn't get enough
they refused to treat her. When Ma Sandar and her husband arrived at the hospital and saw
this they complained to the staff, who allegedly then ejected them all from the premises.

Although the victim of the accident didn't get treated or the police medical record that she
needed, it was the township medical officer who, two days later, made a complaint. According
to him Ma Sandar and her husband verbally abused and threatened the staff, and in court
hearings in December he and the duty doctor added that a group of people was involved and

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UPDATE (Burma): New fraudulent criminal case lodged against released human rights defender 19.02.10 16:20

that Ma Sandar's husband was drunk.

The story is full of holes and errors. The on-duty doctor was, by her own admission, not even
at the hospital when the young woman arrived or when Ma Sandar and her husband came; she
was on duty at her private clinic in town. The township officer who made the complaint learned
about the entire event from this doctor and other staff, and as his complaint is based on
hearsay it shouldn't have been admitted to a court. Ma Sandar's husband does not drink
alcohol due to a medical condition.

To add insult to injury, the charges against Ma Sandar and her husband are the same as those
that were brought against her previously, as if the police were not inventive enough to cook up
a new offence. The judge also is the same as before.

The hearings against Ma Sandar and her husband are ongoing. Full details of the case are
given in the sample letter below, as usual.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

Medical malpractice is a hot topic in Burma these days after a teenage girl died due to a
misdiagnosis last year and attracted a lot of local media interest. The public hospitals are
chronically under-funded and understaffed and complaints of personnel demanding money for
services are common. According to speakers on a short-wave radio station following this case,
the hospital concerned also has a reputation for denying patients treatment unless they pay up:
even pregnant women in danger of miscarriage have reportedly been told to pay large sums or
go elsewhere. Staff people at the hospital are also alleged to steal supplies and sell them
outside.

The AHRC has documented a variety of cases of human rights defenders and people perceived
by local authorities as troublemakers being targeted for retributive legal actions of this sort. See
recent cases of American citizen Kyaw Zaw Lwin (AHRC-UAC-004-2010) and human rights
lawyer U Aye Myint (AHRC-UAC-156-2009).

All urgent appeals on Burma can be accessed by going to the appeals homepage and typing
"Burma" or "Myanmar" into the search box: http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/. See also articles and
special reports on the article 2 website: http://www.article2.org/search.php again search for
Burma/Myanmar, and the 2009 annual report on Burma.

The AHRC Burmese-language blog, Pyithu Hittaing, is updated constantly for Burmese-
language readers, and covers the contents of urgent appeal cases, related news, and special
analysis pieces.

For more information on the dysfunctional criminal justice system in Burma, see the new report,
"Saffron Revolution imprisoned, law demented" (PDF) issued by the AHRC's sister
organisation. See also the comprehensive report from 2007: "Burma, political psychosis and
legal dementia" (PDF) and the 2007 AHRC Human Rights Report chapter on Burma.

______________________________

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write to the persons listed below to call for the case against Ma Sandar and her
husband to be dropped. Please note that for the purpose of the letter, the country should be
referred to by its official title of Myanmar, rather than Burma.

Please be informed that the AHRC is writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteurs
on Myanmar, the right to health, and independence of judges and lawyers as well as the UN
Special Representative on human rights defenders and the regional human rights office for
Southeast Asia, calling for interventions into this case.

To support this appeal please click here:

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UPDATE (Burma): New fraudulent criminal case lodged against released human rights defender 19.02.10 16:20

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear ___________,

MYANMAR: Criminal case based on hearsay lodged against human rights defender

Details of accused:
Ma Sandar and her husband, Ko Zaw Min Htun, both National League for Democracy (NLD)
members, residing in Kanthayar 10th Street, Kyundaw Ward, Twante, Yangon Division,
Myanmar
Primary officials involved:
1. Dr. Kyu Khaing, Medical Registration No. HsaMa/13420; head of Twante Township Health
Department
2. Dr. Hsint Hsint Thi, Medical Registration No. HsaMa/16407; doctor at Twante Public Hospital
3. Sub-Inspector Thein Zaw Oo, Detective, Twante Township Police

Charge and trial:


Charged under sections 353 and 294 of the Penal Code with obscenity and using force to
obstruct a public servant, Criminal Case No. 651/2009, Twante Township Court, Judge Aye Ko
Ko (Special) (Judge No. 1828) presiding

I am writing to you to appeal for the immediate dropping of a false case against a human rights
defender and her husband in Myanmar.

According to the information that I have received, the case arose from an incident at around
6:20pm on 12 November 2009 when a jeep and motorcycle crashed, causing a 21-year-old
woman named Ma Hla Yeit Choe (a.k.a. Thida Win), a resident of Twante, to suffer an
abrasion to her arm. Although the injury could have been tended at a private clinic, for legal
purposes the young woman needed a police medical record and went with her sister to the
Twante hospital to get treatment and the documentation.

At the hospital two on-duty nurses, Daw Myo Thuzar and Daw Nila Myint, allegedly demanded
10,000 Kyat (USD 10) from Hla Yeit Choe to pay for the cost of running the electricity
generator to do an x-ray. After getting the money the nurses then allegedly demanded another
6000 for medicine and would not treat the young woman or do an x-ray. When they did not get
more money, they said that they would not give any treatment and that there was no reason for
the sisters to stay on the premises.

Ma Sandar and her husband learned about the accident and came to visit Hla Yeit Choe at the
hospital. When they saw that she had not been treated they complained to the staff, who
allegedly then ejected the patient and couple from the hospital.

On November 14 Dr. Kyu Khaing sent a complaint letter to the police asking for legal action
against the couple over their alleged interference in the workings of the hospital. He claimed
that they had verbally abused and threatened the staff. After the complaint, a criminal case
was opened in the township court. In preliminary hearings during December the story was
expanded to include a group of people who had allegedly berated staff, and claimed that the
couple had forced Hla Yeit Choe to leave the hospital before getting an x-ray due to the delay
caused by no electricity supply. The doctors also alleged that Zaw Min Htun was drunk;
however, he reportedly suffers from a stomach ailment that prevents him from drinking alcohol.

From the information that I have received the complaint appears to be a gross fabrication, likely
motivated by a vendetta of local officials against Ma Sandar. The on-duty doctor Dr. Hsint Hsint
Thi, by her own admission, was not even at the hospital either when Ma Hla Yeit Choe arrived
or when Ma Sandar and her husband came; she was working at her private clinic in town. The
complainant, Dr. Kyu Khaing, only arrived at the hospital later. His complaint is based entirely
on the hearsay of the duty doctor, who admits to not knowing the full facts of the case. This
doctor also admitted that sometimes money is taken from patients to pay for the costs of
running the generator, however in this case she could not say if this was true of this incident
because she was not present at the time that nurses were alleged to have asked for the

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UPDATE (Burma): New fraudulent criminal case lodged against released human rights defender 19.02.10 16:20

money.

The local officials have also reportedly intimidated the young victim of the car accident to
appear as a prosecution witness, or face legal action herself.

To add to the absurdity of the case, the charges and trial appear to be a reprise of an earlier
case that was brought against Ma Sandar in 2008, after she had complained about corruption
among officials in the township. The charges are the same, as is the judge. She was released
from Myinchan Prison in Mandalay Division in September 2009 after serving her sentence.

I fear that this case will conclude in a similar way and that after the couple are imprisoned on
these concocted charges, their children will be left without either parent. I urge that the
responsible authorities take the necessary action to see that this case is withdrawn from court
in accordance with section 4(1) of the Attorney General Law 2001.

I am also aware that this case has come up at a time that medical malpractice is a serious
issue in the Myanmar media, and that the Twante hospital has a reputation for denying
patients treatment unless they pay money. Bringing this frivolous and vengeful case against Ma
Sandar and Ko Zaw Min Htun can only draw further attention to the decrepit and corrupt
practices of the medical system in Myanmar, and those of the Twante Township medical
department in particular.

The persons responsible for bringing the case to court should consider the disservice that they
are doing the reputation of hospitals, nurses, doctors and government in Myanmar.

Yours sincerely

---

PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Maj-Gen. Maung Oo
Minister for Home Affairs
Ministry of Home Affairs
Office No. 10
Naypyitaw
MYANMAR
Tel: +95 67 412 079/ 549 393/ 549 663
Fax: +95 67 412 439

2. Lt-Gen. Thein Sein


Prime Minister
c/o Ministry of Defence
Naypyitaw
MYANMAR
Tel: + 95 1 372 681
Fax: + 95 1 652 624

3. U Aung Toe
Chief Justice
Office of the Supreme Court
Office No. 24
Naypyitaw
MYANMAR
Tel: + 95 67 404 080/ 071/ 078/ 067 or + 95 1 372 145
Fax: + 95 67 404 059

4. U Aye Maung
Attorney General
Office of the Attorney General
Office No. 25

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UPDATE (Burma): New fraudulent criminal case lodged against released human rights defender 19.02.10 16:20

Naypyitaw
MYANMAR
Tel: +95 67 404 088/ 090/ 092/ 094/ 097
Fax: +95 67 404 146/ 106

5. Brig-Gen. Khin Yi
Director General
Myanmar Police Force
Ministry of Home Affairs
Office No. 10
Naypyitaw
MYANMAR
Tel: +95 67 412 079/ 549 393/ 549 663
Fax: +951 549 663 / 549 208

6. Dr. Kyaw Myint


Minister of Health
Ministry of Health
Office No. 4
Naypyitaw
MYANMAR
Tel: +95 67 411 381/ 411 163 / 411 353
Fax: +95 67 411 004/ 411 016
Email: dmkm@health.gov.mm

7. Prof. Kyaw Myint Naing


President
Myanmar Medical Association
249 Theinbyu Road
Mingalar-Taung-Nyunt
Yangon
MYANMAR
Tel: +95 1 278 863/ 380899/ 388 097/ 394 141
Fax: +95 1 378 863
Email: mma.org@mptmail.net.mm

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme


Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) (ua@ahrchk.org)

Posted on 2010-02-18
Back to [2009 Urgent Appeals]

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