Published on Tuesday, 15 January 2013 19:44
A network of lawyers has threatened to take to the streets again to protest against the government's plan to privatise historic court buildings in Yangon, saying it would also file a lawsuit against to protect the landmark buildings.
The Myanmar Lawyers Network staged a demonstration in Yangon last October to protest against plans to turn one courthouse into a museum and another into a hotel. About 150 lawyers joined the protest.
The government leased Yangon Region Small Causes Court to businessmen who intend to turn it into a hotel. A fence now surrounds it and, lawyers said, its interior is being decorated.
Plans are also underway to rent out the top floor of Yangon Region High Court, formerly the Supreme Court, for a museum.
After last October’s protest, Presidential Office Minister Soe Thein said only parts of the historic building would be turned into a museum and the rest would continue to function as a court.
“We achieved success in one building [the High Court]. Our efforts to encourage the government to withdraw from the privatisation of the Small Causes Court require help from media,” Kyee Myint, a member of the network, told Eleven Media.
“The plan to transform our prestigious courthouse into a hotel is totally unacceptable,” he added.
Transforming a court into a hotel damages the country's cultural heritage, the lawyers’ network said. They insist it should not have been leased.
"We will stage a protest again. We will also sue if necessary," Kyee Myint said.
Lawyer Ko Ni said the network would continue to protest by legal means until the government backtracked on its plan to privatise the courthouse.
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