Wednesday, November 12, 2008

U.S. "strongly condemns" lengthy Myanmar sentences

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Wednesday strongly condemned Myanmar's decision to sentence dissidents to up to 65 years in jail and demanded their immediate release.

Myanmar's military junta sentenced at least 11 dissidents involved in monk-led protests last year to 65 years in jail on Tuesday, opposition figures said, a blow to the pro-democracy movement before a planned 2010 election.

"The United States strongly condemns the Burmese regime's harsh sentencing of at least 30 political activists to between two and 65 years in prison," State Department spokesman Robert Wood said, referring to Myanmar by its colonial name of Burma .

"We also call on the regime to begin a genuine dialogue with democratic and ethnic minority representatives and to immediately release all Burma's over 2,000 political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi and those convicted in recent days," Wood told reporters.

Wood would not say whether the United States might raise the matter at the United Nations Security Council , saying only "we ... are going to raise this issue atvarious levels."

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