November 12, 2008

Fourteen more democracy activists were sentenced to between two and twenty-four years in jail late afternoon yesterday. It brings the total number of activists jailed yesterday to approximately sixty-one, including members of the 88 Generation Students, NLD, Human Rights Defenders and Promoters Group, labour activists, six Buddhist Monks, a blogger and a poet.

British Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell said of the arrests:

“Those detained have done nothing other than exercise their right to express themselves and have at all times underlined their willingness to work with others for a better Burma. This once again underlines the need for a genuine and inclusive political process. I therefore reiterate the recent call by the Council of the European Union for the lifting of restrictions placed on political parties and the early release of those in detention, including Aung San Suu Kyi. There can be nothing approaching free elections until these steps are taken.”

So far Ban Ki-moon, The UN Secretary General, has been silent about the sentences. Ban Ki-moon is due to visit Burma in December but there are fears he will back out of the trip. The United Nations Security Council, General Assembly, European Union, ASEM, and ASEAN have all called on Burma to release political prisoners.

“Burma’s generals are trying to crush all dissent ahead of their rigged 2010 elections,” said Nang Seng, Campaigns Officer at Burma Campaign UK. “Anyone who still believes this regime is willing to reform is living in Disneyland. These harsh sentences give the clearest message they will stop at nothing to cling on to power. The length of the sentences, up to 65 years, is also meant to intimidate and scare off anyone who is thinking of becoming politically active.”

The number of political prisoners has almost doubled since the democracy uprising last year.

For more information contact Mark Farmaner, Director of the Burma Campaign UK, or Nang Seng, Campaigns Office on 44(0)20 7324 4710.

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