An internet blogger and a writer who disguised an attack on Burma's dictator in the form of a love poem were among dozens of activists sentenced to draconian jail terms as the junta ordered a fresh crackdown on dissidents.
Nay Myo Kyaw who wrote
blogs under the name Nay Phone Latt, was sentenced to 20 years and 6 months in jail by a court in Rangoon.
The poet, Saw Wai, received a two-year sentence for an eight-line Valentine's Day verse published in a popular magazine. Saw Wai's poem,
entitled 14th February, was ostensibly a Valentine's Day verse but the first word of each line, however, spelt out a message about the leader of the country's military government: Power Crazy Senior General Than Shwe.
Aung Thein, the
lawyer for the men, was given four months in prison for contempt of court during his defence.
More than a dozen people arrested during the protests last year against the ruling junta were handed harsh prison terms yesterday. Altogether 23
activists were sentenced today at Insein prison. They were sentenced to 65 years each, a family member of one jailed activist said
Other sources said that 14 people from the Generation 88 Students group, who spearheaded the revolt against
Burma's military rulers in 1988, were jailed for 65 years. Ten rank-and-file members of a provincial branch of the opposition National League for Democracy party were given sentences ranging from 8 to 24 years.
The dissidents will join more than
2,000 political prisoners in Burma's jails, half of whom have been incarcerated since the Saffron Revolution last year, when tens of thousands of Buddhist monks and political activists took to the streets in a failed uprising against the military regime.
Burmese comedian Zarganar has been sentenced to 45 years in jail following his most recent run-in with his country's military regime.
Secret police took him from his home in June and seized his computer after he organized a group of around 400
volunteers to provide disaster relief in the areas devastated by Cyclone Nargis.
He defied the junta by talking to international press and soliciting donations, and mocked an article in a state-run newspaper which said cyclone survivors could
exist on what they could scavenge in the land rather than on chocolate bars from Western aid groups.
When Zarganar was arrested, police also seized several banned films, including the latest Rambo movie, in which Sylvester Stallone takes
on Burma's rulers, footage of the devastation caused by the cyclone and film of the lavish wedding of leader Than Shwe's daughter, whose extravagance fuelled outrage among the nation's poor.