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Junta Continues Persecution Of Buddhist Clergy

Junta Continues Persecution of Buddhist Clergy

Burma's military junta forced 16 monks and nuns - many of them elderly - into court last week to face charges relating to their involvement in last September's anti-junta protests. All have been held at the notorious Insein Prison in Rangoon since 6 October.

The nine monks and seven nuns were charged with "defamation of religion" under sections 292, 295 and 295(a) of Burma's criminal code. The minimum sentence they can expect is two years' imprisonment. The clerics were dressed in longyis [traditional Burmese clothing] having been stripped of their Buddhist robes. Witnesses reported that the monks and nuns were physically exhausted but mentally strong. None expressed any remorse for their involvement in the anti-junta protests.

According to Assistance Association for Political Prisoners there are still 196 monks and 10 nuns currently being held in Burma's prisons. The four Buddhist monks who played a leading role in last year's protests have not yet made public court appearances since they were taken into custody late last year.


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