Our History

After the military seized power in Burma in 1962, and after the students' uprising on 7 July, the pro-democracy resistance movement against the military, consisted mainly of students who were committed to the path of armed resistance, and the townspeople of different levels of society, who were also committed to resisting the military- through various means at their disposal. In this society, the lawyers formed an integral part of the pro-democracy resistance movement.

In the Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP) era (1962-1988), where all private enterprise was nationalised and banned, the youth who sought to avoid employment as government servants in the military led BSPP, planned their alternative private professional employment, which resulted in a number of them studying law, and entering the legal profession.

The Lawyers in private practice, consisted of persons who's sole purpose for entering the legal profession was to secure a livelihood, and those actively sought to oppose the oppressive legal system and its laws, and to represent and assist the people who were suffering adversity, due to the oppressive legal system and its laws. In the legal profession, there were a large number of senior Lawyers who regularly represented the people who were arrested and prosecuted for their dissident activities against the military regime, and in doing so these Lawyers took an active stand against the military regime, and risked their own liberty.

During the BSPP era, Burma Bar Council and all lawyers' associations in the whole country have never at any time cooperated, or supported the activities of the BSPP.

During 1988, emergence of the Four Eights' mass movement, senior Lawyers of Burma Bar Council joined hands with the students and the people and actively took part in the uprising, and issued statements and declarations in support of the movement for democracy. Burma Bar Council's declarations and statements were a driving force for the lawyers all over the country to participate in the people’s uprising. The lawyers' associations in cities big and small, embraced the declarations and the statements of the Bar Council, joined the students and the people in their respective towns and districts, and actively took part in the uprising.

During the demonstrations, extensive references were made to the chapter "The positive aspects of democracy" in the book "Our Union of Burma" written by Dr Maung Maung in 1959, by the Lawyers' Association- when conducting its campaign of dissent and agitation against Dr Maung Maung, a legal academic who was then the President of Burma and who protected the military rule- resulting in an uprising that spread throughout the nation. Due to the Lawyers' active involvement in the Four Eights Uprising, the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) after seizing power arrested and tortured Lawyers throughout the country. Prominent in such arrests and sending reports to the British Broadcasting Corporation, and U Htun Tin, a Supreme Court Senior Lawyer and one of the leaders of the National League for Democracy (NLD) Party. Due to the SLORC military junta's substantial pressure, the activities of individual Lawyers and the voice of the Lawyers' associations in Burma were suppressed and silenced. With the aim of reactivating the activities of the Lawyers and Lawyers' Associations and to challenge and fight the military dictatorship before the law, the Burma Lawyers' Council was founded in the revolutionary area.

The Burma Lawyers' Council was established by Lawyers, who have actively opposed the military dictatorship and arrived in the revolutionary areas before and after the Four Eights' Uprising, and also Lawyers who have for various reasons ended up in overseas countries. The current political situation in Burma and overseas created the need for its formation to continue the lawyers' struggle, and from March 1994, a group of Lawyers working together became instrumental in forming the first Executive Council of the Burma Lawyers' Council on 20 October 1994, and a declaration was issued in this regard. It is Council’s aim to contact and communicate overseas Legal associations, and legal academic to obtain their advice, assistance and cooperation. It is also the aim of the Council to assist the democratic forces to the best of its ability in all legal matters, when such requests for assistance are made to the Council.

In Burma under the oppressive military dictatorship system, the unfair and oppressive laws, and the system of justice, the common people are denied their basic rights under the Rule of Law. It is the Burma Lawyers' Council's aim to vigorously oppose all such unfair and oppressive laws, and to restore the basic principles of the Rule of Law. We believe that only when the basic principles of the Rule of Law are put into practice and adhered to; it will assist and support the emergence of a modern, advanced, peaceful, and a new democratic Union in Burma.