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UN experts call for retrial of Myanmar activists

[JURIST] A panel of UN experts on Wednesday urged [press release] authorities in Myanmar [JURIST archive; BBC backgrounder] to retry political and religious prisoners. The group, including Special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar Tomas Ojea Quintana [official website], called for fair and open trials [Reuters report] for dozens of activists convicted [JURIST report] in judicial proceedings inside Yangyon's Insein Prison [BBC backgrounder]. The panel considered such a process to be part of general reforms necessary for moving toward multi-party democratic government, including:

a comprehensive review of national legislation to ensure its compliance with international human rights standards, the release of political prisoners of conscience, and reform of the armed forces and the judicial system.
They also urged Myanmar to release lawyers who were jailed for contempt of court after making public their clients' complaints about the proceedings.

Last week, dozens of activists from 88 Generation Students [BBC backgrounder], including Min Ko Naing [advocacy website], Ko Ko Gyu, and Ktay Kywe, were sentenced to 65 years in prison for their participation in pro-democracy demonstrations last year. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] also voiced concern about the lengthy and severe prison terms, calling for the military junta to release [JURIST report] democracy activists and other political prisoners. Despite the September release [JURIST report] of more than 9,000 political prisoners, human rights groups estimate that more than 2,100 Burmese remain imprisoned for their religious and political beliefs.

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