‘Reporters Sans Frontier’ (RSF), an international media freedom group, today demanded the release of two Burmese bloggers Ko Thura a.k.a. Ko Zargana and Nay Phone Latt because they were punished unfairly.

RSF demands release of two bloggers

by Nem Davies
Wednesday, 08 April 2009 22:29

New Delhi (Mizzima) – ‘Reporters Sans Frontier’ (RSF), an international media freedom group, today demanded the release of two Burmese bloggers Ko Thura a.k.a. Ko Zargana and Nay Phone Latt because they were punished unfairly.

‘Reporters Sans Frontier’ (RSF) based in France demanded that the junta release the two bloggers because the long term jail sentences awarded to them was unfair. They were arrested for possession of video CDs allegedly attacking the junta and wrote their views and opinions on their blogs.

“They do not deserve such long terms in prison so they must be released,” the RSF statement issued today said.

The lawyer representing the two bloggers said that his clients should not have been given such long prison terms for just using the internet.

“Usually such cases are not awarded long prison terms because it was just use of the internet,” he said.

The RSF statement also urged the special envoy of the United Nations Mr. Ibrahim Gambari, to focus on what is going on in Burma during his forthcoming visit to the country as the junta interferes with the judiciary by directly ordering the special tribunals which hear these cases.
Ko Zargana was whisked away from his home in early June last year while he was into Cyclone Nargis relief work. He was sentenced to 59 years in prison after being charged under the Electronic Law, State Security and Video Law. His sentence was later commuted to 35 years.

Youth blogger Nay Phone Latt was sentenced to 20 years in prison after being charged with inciting crime against public tranquility and state security, and under the Video Law and Electronic Law. His sentence was reduced to eight and-a-half years in February this year.

Appeals have been filed at the Rangoon Supreme Court again for their acquittal.

“We submitted appeals in Nay Phone Latt’s case on April 6. It will take some time given the court procedure. This appeal argues for the acquittal. We hope for the best but we have to wait and see how the regime handles our appeal,” advocate U Aung Thein said.

At present, the junta is holding Ko Zargana in Myitkyina prison and Nay Phone Latt is being held in Pa-An prison in Karen State.

Ko Zargana’s sister-in-law Ma Nyein returned from Myitkyina prison today without meeting him. She was denied permission to meet him in a prison interview by the prison authorities on the pretext that it was not yet time.

“Myitkyina prison jailor U Hla Shwe had promised me that I could see Ko Zargana one day before my departure from Rangoon. But he didn’t let me meet him when I arrived there. I requested them to let me meet him but they refused. So I did not leave the food parcels and other packages that I brought from Rangoon with the jailors as I was not certain it would reach Ko Zargana,” Ma Nyein told Mizzima.

Poet Saw Wei, who is serving a two-year prison term in Yemethin prison, is now suffering from severe gastric ailments. He was arrested in February 2008 after his poem appeared in the Rangoon based ‘Love’ Journal. The poem allegedly ridiculed the junta leader. The sentence ‘Snr. Gen. Than Shwe mad with power’ appeared when the first word of each stanza in his poem was pieced together.

“He has been suffering from gastric disorder for a long time. Now I hear that he cannot eat as he is suffering from severe gastric problems. I will meet him tomorrow during the prison interview,” his wife Daw Nan San San Aye told Mizzima.

The Burmese junta has a tight leash on the media and at least 10 bloggers are being held in prisons apart from other media persons.



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