For Immediate Release
65-Year Sentences for "Saffron Revolution" Dissidents Reveal Myanmar Government’s True Intentions, Charges Amnesty International
More Than One Year After Protests, Myanmar's Human Rights Situation Remains Bleak
WASHINGTON - 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." Additional charges against them remain outstanding.
Another person sentenced today was Myanmar blogger Nay Phone Latt. He was given 20 years and six months in prison for, among other offenses, disrespecting Senior General Than Shwe in his blog. More than 2,100 political prisoners are currently behind bars in Myanmar.
"Even as the government continues to claim that its new constitution and plans for elections in 2010 are genuine efforts toward increasing political participation, this sentencing sends a clear signal that it will not tolerate views contrary to its own by handing down such severe sentences," said Zawacki.
"These sentences and the ongoing trials should disabuse anyone of the notion that the Myanmar government has any intention of honoring its assurances to the United Nations that it would improve its human rights record and increase political participation. It knows only repression."
The 14 dissidents known to have been sentenced today are: Min Zeya, Kyaw Min Yu (also known as Ko Jimmy), Nilar Thein, Mie Mie, Zaw Zaw Min, Than Tin (also known as Kyi Than), Zayya (also known as Kalama), Ant Bwe Kyaw, Kyaw Kyaw Htwe (also known as Marky), Pannate Tun, Thet Zaw, Mar Mar Oo, Sandar Min (also known as Shwe), and Thet Thet Aung.
In addition, labor activist Su Su Nway was sentenced to 12 years and six months.
At least another 23 members of the 88 Generation Students group are on trial in Myanmar, including prominent dissidents Min Ko Naing, Htay Kywe, and Ko Ko Gyi, and it is expected that they will also be given additional sentences soon.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.2 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.
THE LAST FIREWALL AGAINST THE LIES
Independent media has become the last firewall against government and corporate lies. Yet, with frightening regularity, independent media sources are losing funding, closing down or being blacked out by Google and Facebook. Never before has independent media been more endangered. If you believe in Common Dreams, if you believe in people-powered independent media, please support our critical Winter campaign now and help us fight—with truths—against the lies that would smother our democracy. Please help keep Common Dreams alive and growing.