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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 May, 2003, 09:54 GMT 10:54 UK
Burma jails activists

By Larry Jagan
BBC Burma analyst

The Burmese military authorities have sentenced 10 members of the pro-democracy movement to stiff jail terms for organising public protests and being involved in clandestine activities.

The political activists were all members of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) and included a member of parliament.

Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest a year ago
The sentences, ranging from two to 28 years, come just as the military government appeared to be trying to meet the opposition leader on her return from travelling to the north of Burma.

Three senior members of Aung San Suu Kyi's party in the west of the country, including the elected MP, have been given two years' for helping farmers to write protest letters to the government demanding the return of their land that had been confiscated.

The rice fields were impounded after the farmers had failed to pay their taxes.

Six other party workers who were arrested with them earlier this week are still in detention.

Fresh doubt

Seven other NLD members in Rangoon were jailed for between five and 28 years for contact with an underground opposition group along the border with Thailand.

The sentences come just as the military junta had hinted it wanted to meet Aung San Suu Kyi again after a seven-month interlude.

This had raised hopes that the dialogue process between the opposition leader and the military government might resume, after being stalled for months.

The UN envoy to Burma, Razali Ismail, who brokered the talks between the two sides, is also scheduled to return to Rangoon soon.

But these fresh arrests cast doubt on how serious the military regime is about political dialogue.

Rangoon recently released more than 20 political prisoners, giving the impression that it was prepared to compromise with the opposition.

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10 Dec 02  |  Asia-Pacific


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