The trial of Brang Shawng, a 25-year-old refugee jailed since June for being an alleged bomber from the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), continued last week under the watch of Judge U Myint Htoo, who has been described as extremely hostile to Brawng Shawng and his lawyer Ma Hka.
Government authorities accuse Brang Shawng and his alleged accomplices of planting bombs, a charge the young farmer's family strongly denies.
According to Brawng Shawng's family, almost immediately after he was detained on June 17 Burmese authorities tortured and severely beat him. Attempts by his lawyer to present evidence of his alleged torture have been repeatedly blocked by the judge. Burmese authorities claim the serious injuries Brang Shawng suffered following during interrogation came as a result of an auto accident.
In July following reports on the trial in Burmese exile media, Judge U Myint Htoo warned Brang Shawng's lawyer not to reveal details of the proceedings to the public. The judge has also barred observers from attending the trial which critics say is further evidence that the court is unfair.
Brang Shawng's plight has brought the attention of international human rights campaigners and activists. In a release sent out earlier this month the Burma Campaign UK denounced Brang Shawng's continued detention and trial. “It is utterly disappointing that military backed government in Burma is still arresting innocent people,” said Wai Hnin in the group's press release. “Brang Shawng case is an example of how civilians are still subject to arrest, torture and harassment in Burma,” added Wat Hnin, daughter of long-time political prisoner and '88 generation student leader Mya Aye.