Mar 18, 2009 (DVB), A young lawyer defending farmers whose land had been forcibly seized by the army was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment by Magwe division court yesterday, said a source close to the court.
Around 50 farmers reported to the International Labour Organisation office in Rangoon in January, complaining that the army confiscated more than 5,000 acres of paddy fields at Myetyeh-kan and Kyaung-ywalay villages in Natmauk township.
Pho Phyu, well-known as a political activists’ lawyer, had been requested by family members to represent four farmers who were arrested and detained when news of their visit to the ILO reached authorities.
He was charged under the Unlawful Associations Act.
One of the farmers, Zaw Htay from Aunglan, was sentenced to 10 years on 23 January with the charge of leaking national secrets for taking photographs of confiscated farmlands.
Lawyers defending political and human rights activists have been harassed and intimidated in various ways.
Young lawyer Nyi Nyi Htway was sentenced to six months in jail by Rangoon Hlaing township court in October with the charge of impeding court procedures.
Another lawyer Kyaw Kyaw Min, who was sentenced in absentia, had fled to the Thai-Burmese border.
Two senior lawyers Aung Thein and Khin Maung Shein were each sentenced to four months’ imprisonment last November for contempt of court. They were released on 6 March.
Reporting by Aye Nai