Page last updated at 15:08 GMT, Sunday, 21 June 2009 16:08 UK

Burmese jailed for Suu Kyi prayer

Burmese in Japan pray for Aung Sang Suu Kyi, 19 June 2009
Burmese in Japan prayed for Ms Suu Kyi on her 64th birthday on Friday

A court in Burma has sentenced two supporters of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to 18 months in prison after they prayed for her release.

The two were convicted of insulting religion after leading prayers at a pagoda for Ms Suu Kyi and other activists to be freed, her party said.

Ms Suu Kyi, 64, has been in detention for more than 13 of the past 18 years.

She is on trial, accused of breaking the terms of her house arrest, and is being held at Rangoon's Insein prison.

A spokesman for Ms Suu Kyi's party, the National League of Democracy, said Chit Pe and Aung Saw Wei were sentenced on Tuesday.

They were arrested in April after leading prayers at a pagoda in Twante, about 40km (30 miles) south of Yangon, said the spokesman, Nyan Win.

Supporters traditionally pray for the release of Ms Suu Kyi and other activists at Buddhist pagodas.

Law revived

Prison sentences for insulting religion were rare in Burma until recently, correspondents say.

But the law was resurrected in 2007 to jail monks demonstrating against the military authorities, and has since been largely used to prosecute political cases.

Nyan Win also said that three other members of the party had been arrested on 12 June after handing out photos of Ms Suu Kyi in Rangoon.

"We do not know the details about their arrest but they were detained on remand under the Explosives Act," he said.

Observers say the charges against Ms Suu Kyi - which carry a maximum punishment of five years in jail - are designed to keep her imprisoned until after next year's election.

Her trial is due to resume on Friday. She was charged after an American man swam uninvited to the house where she was being held, and stayed there overnight.

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