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Burma

40 Burmese Dissidents Given Prison Terms of up to 65 Years


By SAW YAN NAING Tuesday, November 11, 2008


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About 40 Burmese dissidents, including Buddhist monks, members of the 88 Generation Students group, a prominent labor activist and individual social activists were given prison sentences of up to 65 years by a court in Rangoon’s Insein Prison today, relatives reported.

Fourteen members of the 88 Generation Students group, including Min Zeya, Jimmy, Arnt Bwe Kyaw, Panneik Tun, Nilar Thein and Mie Mie, received the heaviest sentences—65 years.

A crowd in front of Rangoon's Insein Prison. (Photo: AFP)
Nine dissidents from Bogalay in the Irrawaddy delta were given prison terms of between eight and 24 years.

Five monks from Rangoon’s Ngwe Kyar Yan monastery each received prison sentences of six years and six months.

A prominent labor rights activist, Su Su Nway, was sentenced to 12 years and six months.   

The well-known musician Win Maw and HIV/AIDS activist Than Naing each received sentences of six years imprisonment. Other activists were given sentences of up to 24 years.

Sources said a further 14 members of the 88 Generation Students group and a number of social activists were scheduled to appear before the court on Thursday. All remaining detained activists would be sentenced by November 25, sources said.

The condemned members of the 88 Generation Students showed defiance in the face of the draconian sentences, said one source.

Min Zeya replied to the reading of his sentence: “Only 65 years?” Mie Mie shouted: “We will never be frightened.”

Others shouted:  “Free Burma!”

In late October, nine leaders of the 88 Generation Students group, including Min Ko Naing, Ko Ko Gyi and Pyone Cho, were sentenced to six months imprisonment for contempt of court. They were later transferred from Insein Prison to Maubin Prison in Irrawaddy Division. 

Win Maung, Pyone Cho’s father, said he expected the nine to be sentenced soon on the main charges against them. They were arrested while leading demonstrations in August 2007 against spiraling price rises.

Three defense lawyers, Nyi Nyi Htwe, Aung Thein and Khin Maung Shein have also been sentenced to prison terms of between four and six months for contempt of court after complaining of unfair treatment.  

On Monday, a young Burmese blogger who largely provided information for the outside world on the brutal regime crackdown on the September 2007 uprising was sentenced to 20 years and six months imprisonment.

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