Cablegate: Gob Gets Revenge for Forced Labor Convictions

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. SUMMARY: Ma Su Su Nway, an NLD youth member who
successfully sued local Burmese officials last January for
subjecting local residents to forced labor, was herself
counter-sued in the same court, and on October 13 was
sentenced to 18 months in prison. Her supporters, including
renowned student leaders Min Ko Naing and Ko Ko Gyi, turned
out in significant numbers for her sentencing, forcing the
authorities to escort her to court under heavy security, lest
any disturbances erupt. The GOB appears to be turning the
clock back on what had been considered gains in efforts to
stamp out forced labor. END SUMMARY.

2. On October 13, Kawhmu Township Court, Rangoon Division
sentenced NLD member Ma Su Su Nway to 18 months in prison.
Her legal counsel had expected only a 7-day sentence and a
possible fine.

3. On January 31, in the same court, she had successfully
sued local Kawhmu authorities, whom the court convicted and
sentenced to 8-month jail terms for using local residents to
do forced labor. Another official, U Kyaw Lwin, though not
named in her initial suit, counter-sued her on April 21,
resulting in this conviction. His suit came after Kyaw Lwin
and another official loudly denounced Su Su Nway at a public
bus station in her presence, following the convictions of
local officials. She defended herself and in the ensuing
altercation, both sides hurled invectives and cursed each
other. Judge Htay Htay Win charged her under Section 294 for
allegedly cursing at local officials in public, and Section
506 for threatening a government official.

4. A surprisingly large crowd of 150-200 supporters from her
village attended the court hearing and announcement of the
verdict. The courtroom was packed and many more spectators
gathered outside. Nine former student leaders, including
past political prisoners Min Ko Naing and Ko Ko Gyi, turned
up to show their support for Su Su Nway. Worried about a
possible outbreak of disturbances, the authorities escorted
Su Su Nway under heavy security. As she left the court Min
Ko Naing, Ko Ko Gyi, and the local NLD MP-elect escorted her
to the waiting police vehicle while the crowd showered her
with flowers. Three policewomen and two policemen drove her
away to Insein Prison.

5. COMMENT: Landmark forced labor convictions in this same
court earlier this year gave hope that the GOB would finally
take action against local authorities who abused citizens.
Clearly the authorities have had second thoughts. This
verdict against a woman who dared to stand up to local
authorities and successfully sued them in court effectively
discourages others who had hoped to seek legal redress
against abusive authorities. END COMMENT.

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