Bauk Ja slams 'bogus charges' of Kachin court

Bauk Ja slams 'bogus charges' of Kachin court

Activist Bauk Ja [also known as Bawk Ja or Bauk Gyar], standing trial in northern Burma’s Kachin State, has accused Burmese government authorities of trying her on bogus charges.

The National Democratic Force member has been standing trial in the town of Hpakant after being arrested last July on charges that include “providing medical treatment without a license”, “unauthorised use of a syringe”, and negligent homicide for allegedly causing the death of her ailing neighbour Zaw Ja in 2009 by treating him.

The Hpakant Township Court on 16 January dropped the negligent homicide charge against her after the prosecution was unable to gather sufficient witness accounts. The activist still awaits the verdicts on two lesser charges which are expected to be handed down on Friday.

Bauk Ja, speaking to DVB by telephone on Thursday morning, said she only went to see Zaw Ja to bestow last rites – the majority of Kachins are devout Christians – but was slapped with “bogus charges” by authorities who “begrudged her for helping local farmers fighting against land grabs.

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She said local authorities have also targeted her for legally challenging the 2010 election victory of her political rival Ohn Myint of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party, a former army general who is now a government minister.

“The charges against me were deliberately framed because I sued former general Ohn Myint for vote-rigging in the elections – as a former military commander in the region, he has influence over local authorities,” said Bauk Ja.

Aung Htoo, lawyer and founder of non-profit group Legal Aid Network, said it would be unfeasible for the court to find her guilty of “unlicensed medical treatment” as none of the witnesses’ statements in the trial supported the accusation.

He also suggested that Bauk Ja has grounds for countersuing the police under the Burmese penal code for making a false document when accusing her of unauthorised use of a syringe.

Bauk Ja has been in detention without bail since her arrest in July.

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