01/21/2010, 00.00
MYANMAR
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Burmese monks and activists tried for 2007 anti-junta uprising

Four monks and a teacher are among the accused. They allegedly took part in the “saffron revolution”, which was crushed in blood. The activists were arrested in September of last year and could get as much as seven years in prison. Currently, more than 250 monks are jailed in Myanmar.
Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Myanmar’s military junta has charged eight activists for their role in the September 2007 uprising that was crushed in blood, dissident media organisation Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) reported.

The eight defendants, who include four monks and a schoolteacher, were arrested last September during a crackdown that coincided with the second anniversary of the so-called Saffron Revolution.

Lawyer Kyaw Ho, who represents two of the men, Thandar Htun and Ko Nyo, said that all eight were charged under the Unlawful Associations Act and the Immigration Act, which together carry a maximum seven-year sentence.

The other defendants are Ye Myint, U Yaywata, U Kawthita, U Withudi, U Waryama and Kyaw Khin.

All eight are accused “of having contacts with the All Burma Monks Association and the Generation Wave,” both outlawed by the generals, and “illegally crossing the border to meet with those groups,” said Kyaw Ho.

Five of the men reportedly do not have legal representation. The relatives of the eight have been barred from visiting them since their arrest and have been able to determine the state of their health, the lawyer said.

The Myanmar government in September of last year launched a crackdown on people suspected of fomenting the 2007 uprising. At the time, thousands of civilians, led by monks, initially took to the streets of Yangon to protest against a hike in fuel prices.

The demonstrations quickly became a show of force against the military regime with demands for the release of political prisoners and the adoption of democratic reforms.

The military responded by firing into crowds and killings hundreds, including many Buddhist monks who are held in high regard and venerated by ordinary people.

According to the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners-Burma (AAPP), more than 250 monks are currently held in Myanmar prisons.

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