Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thirty-nine Burmese dissidents face long prison sentences

Saw Yan Naing writes in the Irrawaddy today:

The family members of 39 Burmese dissidents have tears in their eyes today.

Fourteen leading activists of the 88 Generation Students group, including five women, were given 65-year prison sentences in a court in Insein Prison. At the same time, 25 other activists, including five monks and women who took part in the September 2007 uprising, were sentenced to up to 26 years imprisonment. The well-known labor activist Su Su Nway was sentenced to 12 and half years.

Saw Yang Naing concludes his commentary by observing why the Burmese junta has, by and large, succeeded in squashing dissent:

The military leaders understand well that the world is divided into at least two camps: a sanctions-oriented policy versus engagement-oriented.

The world is divided and the junta has benefited. If the world united behind a single policy that combined elements of both strategies, some progress might be possible,
using a combination of economic sanctions, engagement and other creative approaches.

New ideas and tactics are needed. Otherwise, the leading activists who were just sentenced to 65 years will languish in prison.
I spoke with a former prisoner of the regime about this time last year about what kinds of new ideas are needed. You can read his remarks and those of others here.

The Irrawaddy has more details on the sentencing of the 88 generation activists and other dissidents here and here. In the previous post, I reported on the harsh sentence handed down to blogger Nay Phone Latt and the two year imprisonment of poet Saw Wai.

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