Burma's high court has sentenced 2 opposition lawyers to 4 months each in prison for contempt of court. Aung Thein and Khin Maung Shein were charged after complaining to the court that their clients were not given fair trials.
Burmese defense lawyer Nyi Nyi Htwe was sentenced to 6 months in jail on the same charge. Another attorney, Saw Kyaw Kyaw Min, also faces possible imprisonment. The lawyers represent prominent dissidents, including Buddhist monks detained after pro-democracy demonstrations last year.
These actions, said U.S. State Department spokesman Robert Wood, are a "blatant attempt by the [Burmese military junta] to intimidate these lawyers and demonstrate its contempt for the rule of law." The United States calls on the Burmese regime to release immediately Nyi Nyi Htwe and drop all charges pending against Aung Thein, Khin Maun Shein and Saw Kyaw Kyaw Min.
According to the human rights group Amnesty International, there are still more than 2,000 political prisoners in Burma. And there seems to be no end to the arrests. Meanwhile Burma's most famous political prisoner and pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi remains under house arrest. She has spent more than 13 of the last 19 years under house arrest.
The United States renews its call for the Burmese regime to release all political prisoners and end its attempts to intimidate and silence those who seek the promotion of democracy and human rights in Burma. The U.S. also urges the military junta to engage in a meaningful dialogue with Burma's ethnic minority leaders on a credible transition to democracy.