By SAW YAN NAING
The Irrawaddy News
Ten students—mostly Muslims—who were active in the Buddhist monk-led peaceful demonstrations in September 2007 in Burma were each sentenced to two years in prison with hard labor by the Kyauktada Township court, a prisoners’ rights group said on Friday.
The Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma) released a statement saying the 10 students, including seven Muslims, were arrested about one month after the demonstrations.
After the sentence, the students were placed in iron shackles to be transferred to labor camps by order of the Minister for Home Affairs, the AAPP said.
The AAPP said there are very few cases of political prisoners being sent to hard labor camps. The prisoners’ group it believed the sentences were more severe because of the students’ religious faith.
Tate Naing, the secretary of the AAPP, said, “The transferal of those Muslim students to forced labor camps is religious persecution. Those students now face a life-threatening situation.”
The students were sent to five labor camps including Kyaikmayaw New Life (6) in Mon State and Paan New Life (7) and Taungzun labor camp in Karen State.
In addition, the AAPP said it has learned nine monks in Mandalay in central Burma were arrested two months ago and detained because of their involvement in helping the cyclone refugees in the Irrawaddy delta.
In 1990, a number of monks who participated in a monastic boycott were subsequently imprisoned and sentenced to forced labor camps. Nineteen monks died in the camps because of hard labor and malnutrition, according to the AAPP.