Saturday, November 22, 2008

Activist Sentenced to 65 Years in Prison

Al Jazeera is reporting that Ko Thura, the comedian known as Zaganar, has been sentenced to 65 years in prison for his activism in organizing private aid for victims of Cyclone Nargis, which hit the Irrawaddy Delta in Burma last May. He has been held since June. Family members report that he was sentenced on only three charges; sentencing on four others is set for this Monday.

Trials of aid activists, monks and dissidents have been in secret court; Al Jazeera notes that many are held in closed sessions, and that defendants may not have access to attorneys. In addition, "the most prominent activists have been sent to the furthest corners of the country, making it almost impossible for relatives to deliver food and medicine to them, raising the possibility of the prisoners dying behind bars." Radio Free Asia noted that, in some cases, defendants were not allowed to call witnesses. Information on the excessive sentences meted out to other dissidents can be found here.

These organizations are among those standing up for justice in Burma: Aavaz; Amnesty International; Burma Campaign UK.

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