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Burma Banishes Hip-Hop Star and Others to Remote Prisons


Relatives of imprisoned political dissidents in Burma said the country's military rulers have dispatched seven more political detainees, including a hip-hop star, to prisons in remote areas of the country.

The aunt of Zayar Thaw told VOA Burmese Service that he was transferred Wednesday from Rangoon's Insein prison to a facility in Burma's most southern province.

Zayar Thaw was sentenced to six years in prison for participating in anti-government demonstrations last year. He was among scores of dissidents sentenced last month to lengthy prison sentences.

A Thailand-based rights group, The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners [Burma] said Burma sentenced at least 215 dissidents to prison in November. Of those sentenced, family members and lawyers say more than 100 have been transferred to remote prisons.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has confirmed he spoke Wednesday with former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik about Burma's political prisoners. Mr. Bondevik heads an initiative of more than 100 former world leaders urging Mr. Ban to go to Burma and pressure the country's leaders to release all political prisoners by December 31.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Ban said he plans to remain fully engaged in the effort and would like to visit Burma again. But she added that he will not be able to do so without what she called "reasonable expectation of outcome."

Mr. Bondevik earlier told VOA that a top-level meeting of U.N. members is needed to discuss how the international community can take a more coordinated approach to the situation there.

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