Burma: Monk jailed for anti-election activity
September 19, 2011, 6:35 pm
A court in military-ruled Myanmar has sentenced a monk to 15 years in prison for “anti-election” activities, his lawyer said Tuesday.Oakkan Tha was convicted on Monday in a special court at Yangon’s Insein prison for breaching the Electronic Act and the Publication Act, and for disturbing the security and peace of the state, said lawyer Khin Htay Kywe.
“The authorities accused him of sending information to the Mon News Agency after they found anti-election documents from him. The authorities seized his laptop and cameras,” Khin Htay Kywe said.
The agency, formed by former students and democratic activists, is a vocal critic of the Myanmar junta.
The monk, who is in his early 30s and has been forcibly disrobed by the authorities, was arrested on January 7 in Thanbyuzayet Township in Mon State. His lawyer said an appeal was planned.
Myanmar is gearing up for its first elections in two decades, set for November 7, but the vote has been widely criticised by activists and the West as a charade aimed at putting a civilian cloak on military rule.
The court sentencing came on the third anniversary of a crackdown on the “Saffron Revolution” monk-led protests.
At least 31 people were killed by security forces while hundreds were beaten and detained in a crackdown by the authorities on the rally.
Today more than 250 monks are imprisoned, thousands have been disrobed and key monasteries remain under constant watch for their role in the September rebellion, according to rights activists.
Monks have no right to vote in the November polls, the first in the military-ruled country in 20 years.