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Attorneys subject to arrest and torture, states HRW

FROM THE DVB NEWSROOM

Attorneys defending critics of the military and activists have faced threats, arrest, and prosecution since the 2021 military coup, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW). At least 32 attorneys have been arrested, detained, and even subjected to torture, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP). “At every turn, Myanmar’s lawyers have faced systematic, junta-imposed obstacles and restrictions impeding their work,” said Manny Maung, the Myanmar researcher at HRW. Since Feb. 1, 2021, the AAPP has documented 23,283 arrests with 18,953 of them still in detention. Military courts inside prisons expedite political prisoners’ cases. Lawyers and prisoners are forbidden from communicating with each other prior to hearings. In the 47 townships under martial law, trials have been held by military tribunals, where suspects are frequently denied access to legal counsel. 

HRW interviewed 19 legal advisors and lawyers who have faced intimidation and surveillance. Lawyers representing those charged with sedition, terrorism, and incitement have been targeted. One attorney (name withheld) said that police blindfolded her, forced her into stress positions, and denied her access to food and water. Tin Win Aung, a high court lawyer from Mandalay Region, had his arm and leg broken after a severe beating. HRW called on the international community to impose an arms embargo and targeted sanctions against the military. “Concerned governments should act swiftly to ensure that the courageous remaining lawyers trying to protect those rights are not silenced,” added Maung.

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