Reporters Without Borders and the Burma Media Association welcomed the release yesterday of journalists Thaung Tun and Than Win Hlaing before they completed their sentences. They were among a total of 2,831 detainees pardoned by the military junta. No more than about 30 political prisoners were included in the amnesty. Five journalists, including U Win Tin, are still being held in Burma.
“The release of prisoners of conscience is always good news, even if the junta kept the ailing Thaung Tun and Than Win Hlaing in prison for nearly seven years just for writing articles and books it did not like,” the two organisations said. “We reiterate our appeal to the military government to free all imprisoned journalists immediately.”
Aged 48, Than Win Hlaing rejoined his family today following his release from Tharrawady prison, north of Rangoon. While he was held, prison officials repeatedly refused him treatment for his diabetes and kidney problems, and his wife, Moe Moe Kyi, feared for his life in early 2006.
A former journalist with the Mya Yeik Nyo Journal, Than Win Hlaing was arrested in June 2000 and sentenced to seven years in prison for referring in writing to opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her father, Gen. Aung San.
Thaung Tun, who is better known the pseudonym of Nyein Thit, has also reportedly returned to his family home in the central city of Mandalay following his released from prison in Moulmein, the capital of the state of Mon.
Nyein Thit worked for the magazine Padaut Pwint Thit, the Rangoon city magazine and produced video reports for a privately-owned production company. Interrogated and tortured for more than three weeks following his arrest in October 1999, he was sentenced in December 1999 to eight years in prison under article 5 (j) of the emergency act on the protection of the state for compiling data about human rights violations in Burma and sending it abroad.