More than 20 Karen lawyers from all over Burma held an initial meeting in Rangoon last week to discuss the founding of a lawyer network that would provide legal assistance to the Karen community facing legal issues related to human rights, women’s right and land disputes.
The Karen lawyers’ meeting was hosted at the office of the Karen Women Empowerment Group (KWEG) in Insein Township – the most populated Karen Township in Rangoon.
Saw Tun Tun Aung, a Karen lawyer who attended the meeting spoke to Karen News.
“Currently, we see that our Karen people can’t afford lawyers and don’t get enough legal assistance according to the law when they face legal cases. These issues could be handled more effectively by cooperation of efforts rather individually. We see that there is a need to form a networking in order to help out with this issue effectively.”
Saw Tun Tun Aung insisted that the Karen Lawyers Network should be established to help Karen community with legal assistance especially, land disputes in many areas where Karen live. A network of lawyers will be also helpful when dealing with longer court cases that could take years.
Naw Hsa Mu Khar, a Karen senior professional lawyer agreed with Saw Tun Tun Aung and said that there is now very few Karen who takes up a career as a lawyers even though many young Karen graduated in law. Most Karen who graduated in law face difficulties in getting license and have few opportunities to take up the bar.
Naw Hsa Mu Khar said that it would be more effective if Karen lawyers cooperate with senior lawyers and provide training to Karen youth graduated with a law major to carry out the actions.
Naw Susana Hla Hla Soe, director of KWEG who participated in the meeting said that although they received complaints of land confiscations, human trafficking, human rights violations, and women rights abuses in areas where majority of Karen people live, the Karen Women Empowerment Group (KWEG) couldn’t provide legal aid. Naw Susana Hla Hla Soe hopes that the establishment of a Karen Lawyers Network would be helpful in providing legal assistance to these cases.