October 14, 2009: Eleven political activists, including one Buddhist monk, were sentenced to between five and 10 years on Tuesday at Rangoon Northern District Court in Insein Prison.
The court also passed down a sentence in absentia on two monks, Ashin Pyinnya Jota and Ashin Sandardika, from the All Burma Monks’ Alliance, who have fled abroad.
Sources close to prison authorities in Insein told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday that Ashin Sandimar (aka Tun Naung), Kyaw Zin Min (aka Zaw Moe), Wunna Nwe and Zin Min Shein were sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for violating the Explosives Law (Section 3) and the Unlawful Association Law (Section 6).
Meanwhile, Saw Maung, Aung Moe Lwin, Moe Htet Nay, Tun Lin Aung, Zaw Latt, Naing Win and Tun Lin Oo were sentenced to five years for violating Section 6.
In 2008, Ashin Sandimar, Wunna Nwe and Saw Maung were sentenced to eight years imprisonment for violating the Immigration Act (13/1) and the Illegal Organization Act (17/1), while Zin Min Shein and Tun Lwin Aung are already serving 13-year sentences for other offences related to political activities.
Therefore, Ashin Sandimar, Wunna Nwe and Tun Lwin Aung have now been convicted and sentenced to 18 years each, while Saw Maung has received 13 years, and Zin Min Shein a total of 23 years.
Bo Kyi, the joint-secretary of the Thailand-based rights group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma), said, “We can say with certainty there was no free and fair verdict. They [the activists] were tortured during interrogation and were forced to admit violating these acts.”
Sources have said that some of the activists—perhaps even some of those already behind bars—tried to organize demonstrations on the second anniversary of the Saffron Revolution in September, but the authorities caught them and accused them of belonging to illegal organizations, of being terrorists, and of planning to create unrest.
Meanwhile, Burmese-American activist Nyi Nyi Aung (aka Kyaw Zaw Lwin), who was arrested in early September at Rangoon Airport, appeared in court for the first time on Wednesday.
“He has been accused of violating the Cheating Offence - Section 420, and forgery,” said his lawyer, Nyan Win.
Shortly after the arrest of Nyi Nyi Aung, 16 ethnic Arakan youths were arrested—seven in Rangoon and the others in Sittwe, the capital of Arakan State. They were accused of maintaining links with the Thailand-based All Arakan Students’ and Youths’ Congress.
According to Assistance Association for Political Prisoner (Burma), 2,119 political prisoners are being held in prisons across the country.