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Myanmar journalists sentenced to prison for possessing UN rights report

[JURIST] A Myanmar court on Friday sentenced two reporters to seven years imprisonment for allegedly undercutting the country's military junta by possessing reports deemed seditious. Thet Zin and Sein Win Maung were found in February with a copy of a UN special rapporteur's human rights report on Burma [text, DOC], along with videotapes of last year's pro-democracy demonstrations (Independent backgrounder) during a raid of the offices of The Myanmar Nation, the now-closed newspaper for which both reporters worked. The two were sentenced [AP report] on a charge of breaking section 17/20 of the military-controlled country's Printers and Publishers Registration Act [text, DOC], and received the maximum penalty allowed [RWB press release] allowed under that law. The sentencing came on the same day as another Myanmar court sentenced 13 members of the 88 Generation Students [BBC backgrounder] to six years imprisonment for undermining stability.

The sentences are the latest in a string of harsh jail terms [JURIST report] handed out to Myanmar dissidents which have been condemned by human rights groups [Global Justice Center press release, PDF; JURIST report], Western governments, and the UN [JURIST report] as making a mockery of the military junta's announced plans [VOA report] to renew democracy in the country.

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