updated 10/24/2008 8:16:07 PM ET 2008-10-25T00:16:07

A court in military-ruled Myanmar handed down prison sentences Friday to six opposition party members arrested after last year's pro-democracy demonstrations, a party spokesman said.

A Mandalay court convicted the six of creating public alarm and promoting hatred, and sentenced them to prison terms ranging from two to 13 years, said Nyan Win, a spokesman for the National League for Democracy.

Pro-democracy protests raged across the country in September 2007 before they were violently crushed by the army, leaving at least 31 people dead, according to the United Nations. Thousands were arrested.

The party is led by detained Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who marked her 13 years total under house arrest Thursday.

"A special court inside Mandalay Oakpho prison sentenced all six NLD members today," said a relative of defendant Win Mya Mya, a prominent organizing committee member of the Mandalay branch of the party.

The relative, who asked not to be named to avoid the attention of the authorities, said the activists were tried before a special court in proceedings that began in August. Family members were not allowed to attend.

"It was totally unfair and unlawful," said Nyan Win. "All of them are very active members of the party and the authorities have crushed them politically by meting out lengthy prison sentences."

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

The opposition party was founded in 1988 after an abortive pro-democracy uprising, and since then has faced nearly constant harassment from the ruling military. After the party's candidates won the most seats in a 1990 general election, the military refused to let it take power.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments