RANGOON, Burma – Two members of detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's political party were arrested and charged with insulting religion after they prayed for the release of political prisoners, a party spokesman said Friday.
National League for Democracy spokesman Nyan Win said authorities arrested Chit Pe, the party's deputy chairman, and party member Aung Saw Wei in Twante on Tuesday. Both took part in a prayer service for the release of political prisoners which was held at a pagoda in a township about 20 miles south of Rangoon, Burma (also known as Myanmar.)
Nyan Win said the two were charged with insulting religion, which carries a possible two-year jail sentence.
"The government is suppressing anyone who opposes or challenges them," Nyan Win said. "If a Buddhist is arrested and charged for praying at a pagoda, what can they do?"
Burma's military, which has held power since 1962, tolerates no dissent. The current junta came to power in 1988 after crushing a nationwide pro-democracy uprising and has stepped up its campaign against opposition politicians and activists ahead of elections planned for next year.
In recent months, military courts have sentenced hundreds of pro-democracy activists to prison terms of up to 104 years.
Burma now has more than 2,100 political prisoners, according to rights groups. The most prominent among them is Suu Kyi, who has spent more than 13 of the last 19 years under detention. She is currently under house arrest.