‘Activists’ jail term extended by 20 years

Seven people serving lengthy sentences for alleged links to a banned Burmese activist group have had their prison terms extended by 20 years, courts ruled yesterday.

The seven were already serving terms of between 20 and 38 years in Rangoon’s Insein prison after being arrested in 2008 and accused of holding ties to the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF), a prominent activist group born from the 1988 mass student uprising.

But additional charges under the Explosives Act were levelled at Kyaw Zin Oo, Zaw Lwin, Kyawza Lin, Htet Ko Lwin, Khin Yi, Aye Min Naing and his wife San San Maw. They are accused of assisting in the 2004 bombing at Zawgyi House Restaurant in Rangoon and the bombing at the Panorama Hotel in Rangoon in 2005.

Sentences of ten years for each of the two attacks were handed down yesterday, and all seven were found guilty.

“We are very unhappy with the sentences. The defendants had already been given jail terms for the explosive materials submitted by the prosecutors as evidences in 2008,” said lawyer Kyaw Ho, speaking of the group’s initial arrest and separate charges under the Explosives Act, Unlawful Associations Act and Arms Act in 2008.

He said that no evidence had been provided for the latest sentencing, adding that “normally in cases under the Explosive Act, witnesses should be included from the police’s Criminal Investigation Department and chemical specialists”, although this had not been the case. Moreover, the alleged accusation by the person behind the attack that netted the seven was weak, he added.

The five men and two women are also facing accusations connecting them to an explosion that took place at Shwe Mann Thu Bus Terminal in Rangoon in 2005.

In other news, the imprisoned 1990-elected parliamentary representative in Burma’s western Arakan state, Nyi Pu, is in poor health. According to a colleague of his who spoke to Nyi Pu’s wife, he is not receiving healthcare for a condition that lowers the level of potassium in the blood. He is being held in Kham Ti in Saganig division.

According to the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners-Burma (AAPP), there are currently 2,183 activists, lawyers, journalists, monks and politicians behind bars in Burma.

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