Myanmar dissident gets 104 years in jail

January 14th, 2009 - 6:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Yangon, Jan 14 (DPA) A Mandalay court has sentenced a student activist to 104 years in jail for attending a meeting marking the first anniversary of the “saffron revolution” on the Thai-Myanmar border, a prisoner support group said Wednesday.According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), Bo Min Yu Ko, in his early 20s, was arrested Sep 18, 2008 after attended a meeting on the Thai-Myanmar border to commemorate the first anniversary of the monk-led protests that rocked Yangon and parts of upper Myanmar in August and September of 2007.

Obo Prison Court in Mandalay Division Jan 3 found Bo Min guilty of various charges including six violations of Myanmar’s immigration laws, and sentenced the man to 104 years in jail, said the AAPP.

Bo Min Yo Ko is a member of the Upper Burma (Mandalay) branch of the All Burma Federation of Students Unions.

He was denied a defence lawyer and his family members were not allowed to attend his court hearing, said the AAPP in a statement.

“This is yet another harsh and cruel sentence handed down by the regime’s kangaroo courts,” said Bo Kyi, joint-secretary of AAPP. “The courts are not independent and simply follow orders from the regime.”

Myanmar has been under military rule since 1962.

Since October 2008, Myanmar’s judiciary has handed down hundreds of jail sentences ranging up to 65 years to political prisoners in an apparent effort to clear the country of dissent prior to a scheduled general election in 2010.

Of the estimated 280 political activists who have been sentenced to jail over the past three months, Bo Min’s 104-year sentence is the harshest punishment handed out so far.

The AAPP, a non-governmental organisation that monitors the conditions of political prisoners in Myanmar, called on the upcoming summit of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to be held in Hua Hin, Thailand, next month, to raise the issue of Myanmar’s judicial crackdown on dissent.

“The forthcoming ASEAN summit is the perfect opportunity for them to discuss this issue frankly with the military leaders,” said Bo Kyi. “They must call on them to immediately release all political prisoners, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and start an open dialogue for national reconciliation.”

Suu Kyi, who heads the National League for Democracy (NLD) opposition party, has been under house arrest for 13 of the past 18 years.

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