New Delhi – The United States on Wednesday condemned Burma's military rulers for harshly sentencing over 30 dissidents to long prison terms of up to 65 years, saying it will raise the matter at all levels.
Robert Wood, spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, said, "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."
Wood's statement came a day after Burma's military rulers sentenced at least 30 opposition activists, including fourteen prominent student activists widely known as '88 generation students', to up to 65 years of imprisonment on Tuesday.
The dissidents, including students, monks, and activists, were arrested during the course of the last year for their participation in anti-government protests led by Buddhist monks in August and September 2007.
Burma's current military rulers, who partook in a coup in September 1988 to reassert the military's grip on the country, bloodily cracked down on the protestors last September, killing at least 30 people in addition to launching a determined hunt for key activists.
According to the Thailand-based Assistance Association of Political Prisoners -Burma (AAPPB), an activist group, the number of political prisoners in Burma has drastically increased, to more than 2,100 during the past year, from an estimated 1,100 prior to last year's unrest.
Wood said the U.S. calls on the Burmese regime to immediately release all Burma's over 2,000 political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi and those convicted in recent days.
Wood also said the US will "raise this issue at various levels."
The United States' condemnation joins a chorus of international criticism over the Burmese military junta's decision to sentence the dissidents. Canada, Britain and Germany had earlier issued similar statements.
Burma has been ruled by military dictators since 1962.