Friday, November 28, 2008

Judicial Crackdown in Burma Continues

The Irrawaddy News

Fifteen detainees, including two journalists, were given harsh prison sentences on Friday, according to sources in Rangoon.

Thet Zin, 42, an editor for the weekly journal, Myanmar Nation, and his manager, Sein Win Maung, both received seven-year prison sentences on Friday at a court in Thingangyun Township in Rangoon, said their relatives in Rangoon.

Thet Zin founded the Myanmar Nation in 2006. He is a former political prisoner and had previously worked as a reporter and editor for several weekly journals, including News Watch and Ah Lin Tan.

Thet Zin and Sein Win Maung were arrested in February in a raid in which military intelligence officers seized UN Special Rapporteur Paulo Sergio Pinheiro's report on Burma, Shan ethnic leader Shwe Ohn’s book on federalism and a VCD containing footage of the 2007 September uprising.

At a special court in Rangoon’s notorious Insein Prison, thirteen members of the 88 Generation Students group, including six women, were each sentenced to six years in prison on Friday, according to sources.

They were all sentenced under charges of threatening creating instability under Section 505 (b) of the Burmese penal code. Some of them had previously received prison terms ranging from three to five years.

The 13 were named as: Thein Than Htun, Thaw Zin Htun, Zaw Htet Ko Ko, Pyi Than, Saw Myo Min Hlaing, Aung Theik Soe, Chit Ko Lin, San San Tin, Lay Lay Mon, Noble Aye, Nwe Hnin Yi, Tharapi Theint Theint Htun and Aye Thida.

The judicial crackdown followed the severe sentencing of 14 members of the 88 Generation Students group on November 11. The 14 were among about 40 dissidents each given prison terms of 65 years for their political activity against the Burmese military government.

Burmese courts have recently handed down increasingly harsh sentences on those dissidents suspected of leading the 2007 uprising, including Buddhist monks, lawyers, relief workers and journalists. A prominent Buddhist monk, Ashin Gambira, received the longest prison sentence to date—68 years.

Sources in Rangoon estimate there are still 40 detained activists, monks and cyclone volunteer relief workers still awaiting trail.

On Thursday, a special court in Insein Prison handed down an additional sentence to Burma’s best-known comedian, Zarganar, and two journalists, Zaw Thet Htwe and Thant Zin Aung. Zarganar has now been sentenced to a total of 59 years in prison while Zaw Thet Htwe was given 19 years and Thant Zin Aung got 18 years.

More than 100 of the jailed dissidents have been transferred by Burmese authorities from Insein prison to remote prisons around Burma, creating difficulties for detainees’ relatives to make prison visits.

Also on Friday, a member of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions, Dee Nyein Lin, appeared at a court in Htantapin Township in Rangoon Division, said sources.

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