Belarus “show trials” begin

Thursday 17 February saw the beginning of the hearing against Vasil Parkiankou. The trial, which is being held in Minsk, has been described by an opposition activist as a mere “show trial”. Parkiankou is accused of smashing the windows of a government building in the course of a demonstration in December. This is a “public order offence”. He was protesting against vote rigging in the presidential election. Human rights organisation Viasna have said that more than 40 opposition members will be tried. They face up to 15 years of imprisonment.

This Saturday there will be a solidarity protest outside the Belarusian Embassy in London.

Burma: Senior reporter jailed for 13 years

Maung Maung Zeya, a senior photo and video journalist for the Democratic Voice of Burma has been sentenced to 13 years in prison. He had led a team of journalists who smuggled video footage out of Burma until he was arrested last April photographing the aftermath of bomb attacks in Rangoon. His sentencing comes two months after his son, Sithu Zeya, was imprisoned for eight years on similar charges, and just days after blogger, Kaung Myat Hlaing, had 10 years added to his original two-year prison sentence.