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Burma sentences democracy leader’s relatives to prison

August 18, 1997

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) _ Burma has imprisoned three family members of Aung San Suu Kyi in an apparent effort to put pressure on the democracy leader.

The military government announced today that it sentenced Cho Aung Than, Myint Swe and Nge Ma Ma Than to 10 years each for violating the Unlawful Associations Act and the Emergency Provisions Act, a sweeping law that allows the government to jail people for any activity it deems against its interests.

The military accused the three in June of accepting money from two foreign activists and giving it to Suu Kyi. She has denied receiving any of the funds.

Cho Aung Than and Nge Ma Ma Than are cousins of Suu Kyi. Myint Swe is Nge Ma Ma Than’s husband.

The sentences were apparent efforts by the military government to pressure Suu Kyi to abandon her pro-democracy activities.

Suu Kyi has led a peaceful movement to bring democracy to Burma since 1988. The military junta annulled results of a 1990 general election, which Suu Kyi’s party won, and she was placed under house arrest until last year. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992.

Cho Aung Than served as Suu Kyi’s personal secretary, taking the position after the arrest of Aye Win, another cousin of Suu Kyi, in May 1996. Aye Win has been held ever since but has not been charged with a crime.

Suu Kyi’s party says the government uses a wide network of spies to inform on her activities, forcing her to rely on relatives and very close associates as aides.

Another of Suu Kyi’s cousins, Sein Win, is head of Burma’s government-in-exile, composed of lawmakers who won office in the 1990 election.

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