A court in military-ruled Burma has delivered a major blow to the country's pro-democracy movement by sentencing more than a dozen activists to 65 years in prison each.

At least 14 dissidents received sentences Tuesday during a closed hearing inside Rangoon's notorious Insein prison for organizing anti-government protests last year.

The demonstrations over economic hardships and democratic reforms led to massive protests that were later crushed by the country's military-ruled government.

Those sentenced include Ko Jimmy and his wife, Nilar Thein, who had to abandon her four-month-old daughter when she went into hiding during the government crackdown.

The British government condemned the jail sentences, saying the activists did nothing "other than express themselves" and have always "underlined their willingness to work with others for a better Burma."

Amnesty International's Burma researcher, Benjamin Zawacki, said these sentences show that Burma's ruling military junta does not have any intention of improving its human rights record and increasing political participation.

The dissidents are members of the 88 Generation Students.  The group first began organizing politically 20 years ago when they carried out mass demonstrations to challenge military rule in Burma.


Some information for this report was provided by AFP.