Journalists Caught In Crackdown By Myanmar Junta

Posted: Updated:

YANGON, Myanmar — A court in military-controlled Myanmar has imprisoned two journalists for seven years each for undermining the country's ruling generals after being caught with a U.N. human rights report.

The court in a northeastern suburb of Yangon on Friday sentenced Thet Zin, editor of the local Myanmar-language journal Myanmar Nation, and Sein Win Maung, the paper's manager, after convicting them of undermining the government under the country's draconian Printing and Publishing Law.

The convictions were part of a renewed crackdown by the regime in the past month that has led to more than 100 people _ including activists, writers, musicians and Buddhist monks _ receiving jail sentences as long as 68 years. Many were transferred to prisons in remote regions.

The journalists' sentencing came the same day a court inside Yangon's Insein prison sentenced 13 members of the 88 Generation Students, a group at the forefront of a 1988 pro-democracy uprising, to six years for undermining stability, family members said.

The 13 activists were among 37 from the group handed long prison sentences for their roles in nonviolent protests, including pro-democracy demonstrations in September 2007 led by Buddhist monks that were violently suppressed.

Myanmar's military, which has held power since 1962, tolerates no dissent. It frequently arrests artists and entertainers regarded as opposing the regime.

The lengthy prison sentences have been condemned worldwide by Western governments and human rights organizations, who charge that the heavy-handed tactics makes a mockery of the ruling junta's professed plan to restore democracy through elections in 2010.

(This version CORRECTS name of journal in graf 2 to Myanmar Nation, and total number of members of the 88 Generation Students sentenced to 37 sted 46 in graf 5)