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BURMA: Prominent Rights Lawyer’s Licence Reissued

By Asian Human Rights Commission  •  November 20, 2012

A prominent human rights lawyer who had lost his licence for political reasons among 32 on whose behalf the Asian Human Rights Commission has been campaigning for three years has been informed that he can now again practice law.

In a letter dated November 11, the Supreme Court informed U Aung Thein that it had decided to allow him to practice again. The AHRC has received a copy of the letter.

Bijo Francis, the Hong Kong-based regional group’s acting director, said that the return of yet another disbarred lawyer’s licence was a very positive development, and he hoped that all lawyers in a similar position would soon have their licences returned.

“I had the opportunity to meet Aung Thein this year, and can say that I was incredibly impressed by his fighting spirit and determination to carry on with human rights work despite the impediment of having no licence,” Francis said.

“At the same time, I met another colleague of his, U Tin Aung Htun, who had only recently lost his licence for defending farmers against malicious claims on their land from an army-owned enterprise, who has so far not been able to get his licence back, and who said that he had also for many years been unable to practice in the Supreme Court, apparently because of his work on human rights cases,” he observed.

“Therefore, we urge that all lawyers who have requested their licences to be returned who lost them for political and human rights reasons to have them issued without further delay, and for the cessation of the petty imposition of sanctions on lawyers like Tin Aung Htun, who are in fact serving their country as well as their clients by taking on important cases in this time of political transition in Burma,” Francis added.

Aung Thein was representing clients in over a hundred cases arising out of the 2007 monk-led antigovernment protests in Burma when in 2008 he was imprisoned for four months for contempt of court. His licence was revoked after his release.

Despite the revocation of his licence, Aung Thein continued to handle cases in the interim, working with a team of juniors out of his downtown Rangoon office.

The AHRC in 2011 established a webpage in support of the lawyers who have lost their licences: http://www.humanrights.asia/countries/burma/disbarred-lawyers/

The webpage contains letters of appeal and brief details of the professionals who have lost their licences and the reasons that the licences were revoked. It also contains letters of support from professional groups around the world.
Since the campaign began, around ten lawyers who had licences revoked for political or human rights reasons known to have had them returned. They are: Aung Thein, Khin Maung Shein, Robert San Aung, Thein Than Oo, Khin Maung Than, Kyi Win, Aye Myint (Guiding Star), Myint Htay, Saw Htun, U Khin Maung Shein and Har Mar Nyunt.

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