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Myanmar charges rights activists under security law

[JURIST] The military government of Myanmar [JURIST news archive] on Friday brought charges against 20 pro-democracy dissidents under a new security law, charges which carry a penalty of up to 20 years in prison. The dissidents were charged under the so-called 5/96 law [text], which prohibits, among others, any "inciting, demonstrating, delivering of speeches...in order to undermine the stability of the State...and the prevalence of law and order." Defense lawyers for the detained dissidents, including two prominent activists of the 88 Generation Students Group [Asia Times backgrounder], said no trial has yet been scheduled. AP has more.

The detainees were taken into custody during mass protests [JURIST report] last year sparked by rising fuel prices and human rights abuses by the military regime. In early February, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar Paulo Sergio Pinheiro [official profile; JURIST news archive] said that Myanmar has continued to arrest and detain human rights activists [JURIST report], denying them fair trials. In his statement [text], Pinheiro expressed concern about reports that some detainees were in failing health and urgent need of medical treatment.

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