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Myanmar activist follows dad, granddad to jail

/ Source: The Associated Press

A court in military-ruled Myanmar sentenced a student activist to 6 1/2 years in jail on Wednesday, a week after his father received a 65-year prison term for his own political activities and a decade after his grandfather died in custody.

Colleagues said Di Nyein Lin was one of three student activists sentenced by a court in a suburb of Yangon for various offenses, including causing public alarm and insulting religion. They spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.

In an intensive crackdown on the country's pro-democracy movement, at least 70 activists have received prison sentences in the past two weeks, many after being held for more than a year before being tried.

The courts' actions — which would keep many of the activists in jail long past a general election set by the ruling junta for 2010 — have received worldwide condemnation.

Di Nyein Lin's father, Zaw Zaw Min, was one of 23 members of the 88 Generation Students group who were each given 65-year sentences last week. Many members of the group were at the forefront of a 1988 pro-democracy uprising that was smashed by the military.

Grandfather died in prison
Di Nyein Lin's grandfather, Saw Win, was a member of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party, and died in prison about 10 years ago.

Di Nyein Lin is a leader of the outlawed All Burma Federation of Students Union, to which several of the 88 Generation Students' members belonged in 1988.

Most of the 88 Generation members were arrested on Aug. 21, 2007, for protesting a fuel-price hike. Others were arrested after the government violently suppressed rallies in September of that year that followed the fuel protests and were led by Buddhist monks.

They were sentenced under various charges, including a law calling for a prison term of up to 20 years for anyone who demonstrates, makes speeches or writes statements undermining government stability, and for having links to illegal groups and violating restrictions on foreign currency, video and electronic communications.

The other student activists sentenced Wednesday were Kyaw Swa Htay, who received a five-year sentence, and Kyaw Hsan, sentenced to four years in jail.

Amnesty International and other human rights groups say the junta holds more than 2,100 political prisoners, up sharply from nearly 1,200 in June 2007 — before last year's pro-democracy demonstrations.

The prisoners include Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest, as she has been on and off since 1989.