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General News    H3'ed 11/12/08

Burma blogger gets 20 years; 14 get 65 years each

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Image: Aung San Suu Kyi, TIME 100

Burma Crisis Update: A Blogger Gets 20 Years, 14 Democracy Activists Get 65 Years Each; Meanwhile, Business as Usual for Energy Giants

By Richard Power

I have not written about Burma in a few weeks. Not because the crisis has ended, far from it. But simply because there have been no new developments worthy of note, good or bad. Just a continuum of misery. Until now, and this news is bad.

At least 14 democracy activists, including three Generation 88 student leaders, who participated in the 2007 protests were sentenced to 65 year prison terms.

A young blogger, who was responsible for getting the truth out to the world during the uprising, was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

No one should go to prison for advocating democracy in their own country, no one should go to prison for practicing free speech on the Internet -- not even for one year, not even for one moment.

The cruel sentences meted out to these brave dissidents prove that the Burmese thugocracy has no intention whatsoever of loosening its grip or changing its ways.

The sentences also prove that those governments and corporations that posture and pontificate while continuing to do business with the thugocracy are, at best, engaged in ineffectual efforts, or worse (and more likely), simply providing cosmetic cover for their own profit-driven agendas.

It is tragic, both for those who will suffer and for those who do not realize that when they are culpable in the infliction of such suffering, they also do irreparable damage to themselves.

Here are brief excerpts from the two news stories, with links to the full texts:

A young Burmese blogger who was a major source of information for the outside world on the brutal regime crackdown on the September 2007 uprising was sentenced to 20 years and six months imprisonment on Monday.

Nay Phone Latt, 28, was sentenced by a court in Rangoon’s Insein Prison, according to his mother, Aye Than. He was convicted of contravening Public Offense Act 505 B by posting a cartoon depicting junta leader Snr-Gen Than Shwe on his blog site. Irrawaddy, 11-10-08

Today's sentencing of at least 14 dissidents who took part in the 2007 anti-government demonstrations--each to 65 years in prison--is a powerful reminder that Myanmar's military government is ignoring calls by the international community to reverse its shameful human rights record, Amnesty International said.

"In the midst of its so-called 'Roadmap to Democracy,' the government of Myanmar reveals its true intentions by sentencing these dissidents for nothing more than peacefully expressing their views during last year's demonstrations," said Benjamin Zawacki, Amnesty International's Myanmar researcher.

Three of those sentenced are Min Zeya, Kyaw Min Yu (also known as Ko Jimmy), and Ko Jimmy's wife, Nilar Thein. They are prominent 88 Generation Students group leaders who spearheaded the pro-democracy uprising in Myanmar 20 years ago. Their sentences today were related to their involvement in the 2007 demonstrations, popularly known as the "Saffron Revolution."

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Richard Power writes and speaks on the 21st Century security and sustainability crisis. He is the author of five books. He has also delivered executive intelligence briefings and led professional training in over thirty countries. You can read his (more...)
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