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Myanmar activists sentenced to prison for protest commemoration march

[JURIST] Officials of Myanmar opposition group the National League for Democracy (NLD) said Sunday that the government has sentenced five of its members to prison for participating in a march commemorating the mass student protests [BBC backgrounder] against the junta held on August 8, 1988. The 2008 protest, held in the Rakhine province, included 48 people, and police arrested the five NLD members on charges of creating public alarm and unlawful assembly. Government officials sentenced each on Friday to two and one-half years in prison. Rakhine NLD official Thein Naing told the media that the sentencing occurred without giving the party members the chance to consult a lawyer. Other party officials have expressed hope that a UN envoy's visit to Myanmar [UN News Centre report] scheduled to begin Monday will help ease tensions between the NLD and the government. AFP has more. AP has additional coverage.

In July, 14 members of the NLD were charged [DPA report] with causing political unrest by staging a protest outside NLD headquarters where they shouted slogans calling for the release of NLD party leader Aung San Suu Kyi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. The demonstration took place on June 19, Suu Kyi's 63rd birthday. Suu Kyi has spent 12 of the past 18 years in prison or under house arrest for alleged violations of an anti-subversion law [text]. The military junta extended [JURIST report] Suu Kyi's house arrest into a sixth year in May, sparking an international outcry and demonstrations by the NLD.

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