The Myanmar Military Is Battling The Opposition Through The Judicial System

As it battles to consolidate control over a country in uprising, it has increasingly targeted lawyers representing political prisoners. At least five lawyers have been arrested across Myanmar over the past month for defending politicians and activists, an escalation of the military’s assault on the judiciary.
In late May, police arrested Thein Hlaing Tun, the lawyer of deposed Naypyidaw Council chairman Myo Aung, a co-defendant of Aung San Suu Kyi. The former elected leader of Myanmar was overthrown by the military on February 1 after her party, the National League for Democracy, had won the November election in a landslide.
According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which has been monitoring the situation, over 6,000 opponents have been arrested, charged, or sentenced since the coup.
Thein Hlaing Tun and five other lawyers were with their client on May 24, when he was arrested and charged under section 505A, an incitement charge that carries a three-year sentence and has become a favorite of generals. Myo Aung did not learn of the arrest until he met with the other lawyers on June 7, according to Khin Maung Zaw, a member of Aung San Suu Kyi’s defense team.
In a text message, Khin Maung Zaw announced that he had appointed new lawyers among us. Al Jazeera reported that “we’re worried about other lawyers,” and that the situation has become “very very difficult” due to the danger of harassment and arrest as well as internal disagreements about how to proceed in such a skewed system.
On May 28, 2021, a lawyer from Ayeyarwady Region was arrested while defending a political dissident in court. As reported by local media, she had taken on a few high-profile clients, including the superintendent of a hospital who went on strike rather than work under the military regime. A 505A charge was filed against her as well.

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