BURMA: Junta Determined to ‘Guide’ 2010 Polls

By Marwaan Macan-Markar

BANGKOK, Dec 31 (IPS) – Burma’s military regime ended 2008 with greater resolve to steamroll over opposition voices in order to pave the way for a junta-friendly government when the country holds general elections in 2010.

On Dec. 30, nine supporters of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi were arrested when they staged a protest in Rangoon, the former capital, calling for her release. Some of the protesters were wearing the colours of the National League for Democracy (NLD), the party that she heads.

The risk these activists took in placing their lives on the side of political freedom has been heightened in the wake of harsh judgements delivered against leading voices of the country’s struggling democracy movement in November. Some of them were given long jail terms and Min Ko Naing, a widely respected former university student leader, was put away for 65 years.

The November verdicts, which saw 215 political activists sentenced, were largely linked to the peaceful, pro-democracy street protests, led by thousands of Buddhist monks, held in September 2007.

Buddhist monks who were in the vanguard of the protests, which was crushed by the junta, were not spared. U Gambria, a leader of the All Burma Monks’ Alliance, was sentenced to 68 years in jail.
read all http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=45270

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