A man arrested last year in connection with the Rangoon bombings and later sentenced to two years’ in prison was yesterday given an additional 10 years under Burma’s draconian Electronics Act.
Courts alleged that Kaung Myat Hlaing, 22, had also been involved in various poster campaigns calling for the release of political prisoners in Burma prior to his arrest in April 2010.
But it appears that his role as an underground blogger eventually came to the attention of authorities, whom last month brought him from his cell in Rangoon’s Insein prison to stand in a closed court and hear the verdict.
A family member who spoke to DVB on condition of anonymity said that Kaung Myat Hlaing had blogged under the name of Nat Soe (‘dark angel’) following the September 2007 uprising. Authorities had been looking for him since, he said, adding that “in 2010, he was arrested under the pretext of being connected to the bombings that he didn’t have anything to do with.
“He was interrogated for 10 days and authorities found out that he took part in the poster campaigns, sticking up posters on police and army trucks calling for the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners.
“He was not allowed to sleep and also denied food and water during the 10-day interrogation.”
A decade-long sentence is the minimum punishment for being found guilty under the Electronics Acts, which has been used on a number of occasions to silence dissenting media outlets.
Burma was recently ranked as the world’s fourth biggest jail for journalists by the New York-based Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ). It also came 171 out of 175 countries in Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index last year.
Kaung Myat Hlaing joins nearly 2,200 other political prisoners in Burma’s jails, more than 20 of whom are journalists.
Whilst under interrogation, the family member said, he allegedly admitted to being a member of activist group The Best Fertiliser, which has organised a number of anti-regime campaigns in the past.
Five other youths arrested in connection with the bombings are also awaiting verdicts.
Three separate grenade attacks hit the X20 pavilion in Rangoon on 15 April 2010 as revellers celebrated the Thingyan festival. Nine people died, making it the most deadly attack on Rangoon in half a decade. A 31-year-old has been charged with murder for his role in the bombings.