By Kyaw Ye Lynn
YANGON, Myanmar (AA) – Legal professions have established an association to provide legal assistance to the Muslim community to help them defend their basic rights in Myanmar, where anti-Muslim sentiment has been growing over the past few years.
Supreme Court Advocate Ko Ni -- a legal adviser to Myanmar's ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party -- told Anadolu Agency on Thursday that plans to form a “Myanmar Muslim Lawyers Association” were originally discussed six months ago.
“It aims to unite Myanmar Muslim lawyers and to protect against violations of the basic rights of Muslim citizens in the country,” he said by phone.
More than 70 Muslim lawyers across the country have already signed up since it was formed June 4 in Yangon.
“We hope at least 200 Muslim lawyers will join,” Ko Ni said, adding that Muslims in Myanmar have lost their basic rights as their religion has been discriminated against.
The association has said that it also aims to promote access to justice and battle the long-entrenched culture of bribery and corruption that existed in the legal system before the country stepped out of military rule Nov. 8
Aung San Suu Kyi's NLD won the election, and has since become the country's first civilian government in more than three decades.
Myanmar's judiciary has long been perceived as one of the most debauched pillars of governance in the country. In 2015, the World Justice Project placed Myanmar 91st of 102 countries in its annual Rule of Law Index.
In a 2016 report, Human Rights Watch said that discrimination and threats against the Muslim minority in Myanmar has intensified, highlighting what it called "a manifestation of growing ultra-nationalism".
The Rohingya Muslim minority continues to face statelessness and systematic persecution, it added.