Posted 2008/11/12

Front Line condemns the harsh sentencing of ´88 Generation members and other human rights defenders

Front Line is seriously concerned following reports received that on 11 November 2008, fourteen members of the ´88 Generation each received prison sentences of 65 years for their role in the August-September 2007 mass protests. Mie Mie, Nilar Thein, Ko Jimmy (a.k.a Kyaw Minn Yu), Min Zaya, Zaw Zaw Min, Than Tin (a.k.a Kyi Than), Zayar (a.k.a Kalama), Ant Bwe Kyaw, Kyaw Kyaw Htwe (a.k.a Marky), Pannate Tun, Thet Zaw, Mar Mar Oo, Sandar Min (a.k.a Shwe), and Thet Thet Aung are all prominent members of the group. Another 20 members of the ´88 Generation including Min Ko Naing, Ko Ko Gyi and Htay Kywe are still awaiting sentencing. Other Burmese human rights activists such as Nay Myo Kyaw (a.k.a Nay Phone Latt) have also received extremely harsh sentences for their roles in the 2007 anti-government rallies.

Further Information

Mie Mie, Nilar Thein, Kyaw Minn Yu, Min Zaya, Zaw Zaw Min, Kyi Than, Kalama, Ant Bwe Kyaw, Marky, Pannate Tun, Thet Zaw, Mar Mar Oo, Shwe, and Thet Thet Aung had been held in Insein prison under more than twenty charges concerning their involvement in the August-September 2007 protests. On 11 November 2008 at approximately 1:00 pm, the fourteen sentences were handed down in a closed-door hearing in Insein prison special court. The student activists were convicted on four counts of illegally using electronic media and were given 15 years for each charge plus five years for forming an illegal organization, totalling 65 years. Family members were not permitted to attend the hearing.

A further 20 members of the ´88 Generation including Min Ko Naing, Ko Ko Gyi and Htay Kywe, are still standing trial and awaiting their sentences. These human rights defenders are charged with illegally crossing an international boundary, associating with illegal organizations and inciting people to threaten national security, in addition to being charged under the Printing Press Act, charges which could result in sentences of up to 150 years each.

In a separate hearing on 10 November 2008, Nay Phone Latt was sentenced to twenty years and six months at a closed trial in Insein prison special court. Nay Phone Latt, a major source of information about human rights issues during the regime repression of the September 2007 demonstrations, was charged under section 505/b of the Penal Code, articles 32/b & 36 of the Video Act, and articles 33/a & 38 of the Electronic Transactions Law. Nay Phone Latt is a youth member of the National League for Democracy and a well-known blogger. U Aung Thein, a lawyer had been representing both Nay Phone Latt but was himself sentenced to four months imprisonment on 7 November 2008 under section 3 of the Contempt of Court Act.

The government, after cracking down on protesters in September 2007, began systematically arresting hundreds of leaders and human rights defenders. Since July 2008, the authorities have been putting human rights defenders on trial in a tightly controlled court inside Insein prison.

Front Line believes that these human rights defenders have been given extremely harsh sentences as a result of their peaceful and legitimate activities in defence of human rights and democracy. Front Line is concerned about the ongoing trend of harassment of human rights defenders in Burma and is gravely concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of the aforementioned human rights defenders.

Action Update Needed. Before taking further action on this case please contact info@frontlinedefenders.org for further information