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UPDATE (Burma): Human rights defender jailed for second time 16.05.

10 13:22

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UPDATE (Burma): Human rights defender jailed for second time

Urgent Appeal Update: AHRC-UAU-019-2010


11 May 2010
Friendly [RE: AHRC-UAC-235-2008: BURMA: A woman harassed and jailed for making complaints against
Version local officials; AHRC-UAU-007-2010: BURMA: New fraudulent criminal case lodged against
released human rights defender]
BURMA: Human rights defender jailed for second time

ISSUES: Rule of law; military government; judicial system




Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) regrets to inform you that, as anticipated, a
human rights defender in Burma was imprisoned again last week. She was originally jailed
because of complaints she made against local officials and has now been imprisoned with
her husband under the same charges, after appearing before the same judge as the
previous case.


As the AHRC wrote in February (UAU-007-2010) Ma Sandar and her husband were targeted with
new fraudulent legal action in November 2009 in response to their complaints about the lack of
treatment for an accident victim at a township hospital. The charges against Ma Sandar and her
husband Ko Zaw Min Htun were the same as those that were brought against her previously, when
she had complained about local authorities' corruption. The judge also was the same as before.

In April the AHRC addressed an open letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on
this case (OLT-003-2010). Unfortunately, as expected, on 7 May 2010 the township court found
Ma Sandar and Zaw Min Htun guilty and sentenced them to one-and-a-half and one year's
imprisonment respectively. After the verdict was read the two were immediately sent to the central

Ma Sandar is reportedly in bad health and unable to eat rice.

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UPDATE (Burma): Human rights defender jailed for second time 16.05.10 13:22

Further details are available in the modified sample letter, below. Details of the previous case
against Ma Sandar are available online at: UAC-235-2008. 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/.



Please write to the persons listed below to call for the release of Ma Sandar and her husband.
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 and the 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:


Dear ___________,

MYANMAR: Conviction of human rights defender from case based on hearsay

Details of accused:
1. Ma Sandar, residing in Kanthayar 10th Street, Kyundaw Ward, Twante, Yangon Division,
Myanmar, sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment
2. Ko Zaw Min Htun, husband of Ma Sandar, residing in Kanthayar 10th Street, Kyundaw Ward,
Twante, Yangon Division, Myanmar, sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment
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
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 criminal force to obstruct a public servant, Criminal Case No. 651/2009, Twante Township
Court, Judge Aye Ko Ko (Special) (Judge No. 1828) presiding
Date of the verdict: 7 May 2010

I am writing to you to appeal for the release of a human rights defender and her husband from
imprisonment 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, injuring the arm of a 21-
year-old woman named Ma Hla Yeit Choe (a.k.a. Thida Win), a resident of Twante. Although the
injury could have been tended at a private clinic, the young woman needed a police medical
record for legal purposes. She went with her sister to the Twante hospital to get treatment and the

At the hospital two on-duty nurses, Daw Myo Thuzar and Daw Nila Myint, allegedly requested
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 the money was given the nurses then allegedly demanded another 6,000 Kyat

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UPDATE (Burma): Human rights defender jailed for second time 16.05.10 13:22

for medicine, yet failed to either to treat the young woman or do an x-ray. When the patient would
not pay again the nurses allegedly said that they wouldn't offer treatment the woman and that the
two woman should therefore leave the premises. On visiting the victim Ma Sandar and her
husband complained to the staff, who allegedly then ejected the patient and couple from the

On November 14 Dr. Kyu Khaing sent a complaint letter to the police asking for legal action
against the couple for their alleged interference in the workings of the hospital. He claimed that
they had verbally abused and threatened the staff. A criminal case was opened in the township
court and in preliminary hearings during December the story was expanded. It now related an
incident involving a group of people who had allegedly berated staff, and alleged that Ma Sandar
and her husband 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 alleged that Zaw Min Htun was drunk; he reportedly suffers from a stomach ailment
that prevents him from drinking alcohol. The apparent fabrication of this complaint appears to have
been motivated by the local authorities' vendetta against Ma Sandar.

It should be noted that the on-duty doctor, Dr. Hsint Hsint Thi, was (by her own admission) not at
the hospital either when Ma Hla Yeit Choe arrived or when Ma Sandar and her husband came.
She was working during her duty hours 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. She has
also admitted that money is sometimes taken from patients to pay for the costs of running the
generator. In this case she could not say if money was requested for either the generator or
medicine because she was not present when it was asked for.

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

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 alleged 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 deeply regret to learn that on 7 May 2010 the Twante Township Court found the two accused
guilty and sentenced them to one-and-a-half years and one year in jail respectively. I urge that the
responsible authorities take the necessary action to see that they are released from imprisonment
without undue delay. I also take this opportunity to call for the International Committee of the Red
Cross to be given access to all detention facilities in Myanmar in accordance with its international

Finally, I am 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: even pregnant women in danger of miscarriage have reportedly
been told to pay large sums or go elsewhere, and staff at the hospital have been accused of selling
hospital supplies outside of the premises.

The only positive consequence of this frivolous, vengeful case against Ma Sandar and Ko Zaw Min
Htun is the much-needed attention it has given to corrupt practices of the medical system in
Myanmar, and those of the Twante Township medical service in particular.

Yours sincerely


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UPDATE (Burma): Human rights defender jailed for second time 16.05.10 13:22


1. Maj-Gen. (Retd.) Maung Oo

Minister for Home Affairs
Ministry of Home Affairs
Office No. 10
Tel: +95 67 412 079/ 549 393/ 549 663
Fax: +95 67 412 439

2. Lt-Gen. (Retd.) Thein Sein

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

3. U Aung Toe
Chief Justice
Office of the Supreme Court
Office No. 24
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
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
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
Tel: +95 67 411 381/ 411 163 / 411 353
Fax: +95 67 411 004/ 411 016
Email: dmkm@health.gov.mm

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UPDATE (Burma): Human rights defender jailed for second time 16.05.10 13:22

7. Prof. Kyaw Myint Naing

Myanmar Medical Association
249 Theinbyu Road
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@ahrc.asia)

Posted on 2010-05-11
Back to [2010 Urgent Appeals]

Asian Human Rights Commission

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