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13 more Myanmar dissidents get prison sentences

world Updated: Nov 14, 2008 09:45 IST

Courts in Myanmar sentenced more than a dozen activists to prison in a continued judicial crackdown on the country's pro-democracy movement that has drawn international condemnation.

The verdicts yesterday came after the United Nations, the US and Britain denounced long prison terms given to more than 30 democracy activists in military-run Myanmar earlier this week. Some were sentenced at closed-door trials to 65 years in jail.

They included several who played prominent roles ahead of mass pro-democracy protests that were crushed by the ruling junta in September last year.

Thirteen members of the opposition National League for Democracy party were given jail terms yesterday ranging from 4 1/2 to 9 1/2 years on various charges including disturbing public tranquility, party spokesman Nyan Win said.

"The secretary-general is deeply concerned by recent reports of sentences and severe prison terms imposed in connection with the peaceful demonstrations of last year in Myanmar," the UN said in a statement released by its office in Myanmar.

The UN reiterated calls for all political prisoners to be released and for all citizens to be allowed to participate freely in the country's political future.

International human rights groups say Myanmar now holds more than 2,100 political prisoners, compared to nearly 1,200 in June 2007, before the September 2007 pro-democracy demonstrations.

They include Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, head of the opposition party, who is under house arrest.