Lengthy sentences for opposition prayer arrestees

June 18, 2009 (DVB), Two members of the opposition National League for Democracy party arrested after praying for the release of political prisoners in Burma have each been sentenced to one-and-a-half years in prison.

The two, Chit Pe and Aung Soe Wei, were arrested on 21 April after holding a prayer ceremony at a pagoda near to Rangoon division's Twante township, and charged under Section 295a which addresses "desecration of religious buildings and property".

Aung Soe Wei's wife Ma Lwin said the two were immediately taken to Rangoon's Insein prison following the verdict and were barred from speaking to family members waiting outside the court. Lawyer Kyi Toe said that his requests to authorities to let him meet his clients to were denied.

"I made a request to the police station chief Myint Kyaw and also to the court, but was denied both times," said Kyin Toe."I was not given the right to freely talk to and discuss with my client from the start until the end of the case."

Meanwhile, three National League for Democracy (NLD) youth members in Rangoon were arrested by authorities last Friday.

NLD spokesperson Nyan Win said it was a further sign of the ruling State Peace and Development's Council's repression of opposition groups in Burma.

"The NLD has been under pressure [from the SPDC] for many years and it is not easing, even when they are promising a new election and the end of all arguments," said Nyan Win.

"But we are not in depression; we will continue doing our work and will never change our non-violence policy."

Reporting by Khin Hnin Htet

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