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Myanmar Junta Jails Senior Monk, Five Other Anti-Regime Activists

Prominent anti-regime activist monk Ven. Kalyana, left, and political columnist Sithu Aung Myint.

Myanmar’s military regime on Thursday handed down jail sentences of between two and three years to six anti-regime activists – a Buddhist monk, four youths and a political columnist.

The sentences for incitement come just a week after the regime released political prisoners in a Nov. 17 pardon apparently aimed at easing international pressure over arbitrary mass arrests and jailing of opponents.

The Mandalay Sangha Union stated that a regime court sentenced five people, including Ven. Kalyana, a leader of the Union and prominent anti-regime activist monk, to three years in prison.

The four youths sentenced together with the monk were Ko Kaung Khant Zaw (aka Ko Ngat), Ko Hein Maung, Ko Paing Nway Oo and Ko Ne Ye.

All five have been detained for the past month and not allowed a defense lawyer or the chance to defend themselves before the court, said the Union, pointing out that this violated their human rights.

“Only when we root out the military dictatorship will our rights be restored,” the Mandalay Sangha Union said in its statement.

Political columnist and junta critic Sithu Aung Myint, who was already serving a three-year sentence in Insein Prison for sedition, was hit with additional jail time on Thursday.

The junta’s court handed him two more years with labor on an incitement charge.

More than 16,000 people have been arrested since the coup in February last year, and nearly 13,000 people remain in detention, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a rights group that monitors arrests.

Political detainees include elected leaders, lawmakers, journalists, peaceful protesters, striking civil servants, activists, as well as more than 300 children, many of whom are being held as hostages to threaten their family members.