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Burma 26 August 2002

Student activist and journalist released in Rangoon

Journalist and student activist Thaw Thaw Myo Han was freed by the military secret police on 23 August along with 19 other students. He told Radio Free Asia they had been arrested and interrogated in connection with "illegal publications" and had not been mistreated.


image 100 x 132 (JPEG) Thaw Thaw Myo Han, an electronic communication student at Rangoon’s University of Technology, writer and contributor to the magazines Sa-be-byu, Han-thit and Atwe-amyin, was arrested by the military secret police on 17 August along with two other students. There has been no news of them since their arrest.

"The Burmese junta has shown unprecedented signs of opening-up in recent months, with the release of Aun San Suu Kyi and numerous other dissidents. These fresh arrests are the most unfortunate and most blatant refutation of this opening-up. They raise the spectre of a new wave of repression of opposition activists, in particular journalists, who attempt to inform the population about the activities of opposition movements and the situation in the country," state Robert Ménard, Secretary-General of Reporters Without Borders and U Thaung, President of the Burma Media Association, in their letter to Burmese Interior Minister, Lieutenant-General Tin Hlaing. The two organisations have called for the immediate release of Thaw Thaw Myo Han and his companions, and have called on the regime to halt arbitrary arrests immediately.

Thaw Thaw Myo Han was arrested at his Rangoon home during the night of 17 August by the military intelligence service. The authorities, when questioned about the reasons for the arrest, refused to make any comment. The student, who was writing articles in support of democracy and of Aung San Suu Kyi, had previously been taken into police custody in July 2002, after he published the University Literary Journal, under the auspices of the University Students’ Literary Association, without authorisation. The day he was arrested, a final-year law student, Thet Naung Soe, distributed a statement in a Rangoon street calling on the Burmese people to "make a clear choice between living in fear or living in freedom". According to the Irrawaddy news magazine, Thaw Thaw Myo Han was arrested because the military authorities suspected him of being involved in a plan to organise a pro-democracy demonstration.

At least 21 students have been arrested since 17 August, and dozens more have gone underground.




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