Young Burmese Blogger Sentenced to more than 20 Years in Jail
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Young Burmese Blogger Sentenced to more than 20 Years in Jail

By SAW YAN NAING Monday, November 10, 2008

Correction Appended

A young Burmese blogger was sentenced on Monday to 20 years and six months imprisonment for infringements of several acts governing computer use.

Nay Phone Latt, 28, was sentenced by a court in Rangoon’s Insein Prison, according to his mother, Aye Than. He was convicted of contravening Public Offense Act 505 B and two other acts. One of his alleged offences was to store a cartoon depicting junta leader Snr-Gen Than Shwe in his email.

Nay Phone Latt’s colleague Thin July Kyaw was sentenced to two years imprisonment, Aye Than reported.

Nay Phone Latt

Another dissident who ridiculed the regime, Saw Wai, was sentenced to two years imprisonment for publishing a poem mocking Than Shwe in the weekly Love Journal, according to Rangoon sources. The first words of each line of the Burmese language poem spelled out the message “Senior General Than Shwe is foolish with power.”

Two Rangoon journalists, Htun Htun Thein and Khin Maung Aye, of the privately-owned weekly News Watch, were arrested on November 5 and are being detained in Insein Prison. The media rights organizations Reporters without Borders and Burma Media Association have demanded their immediate release.

The current regime crackdown is also aimed at silencing legal attempts to ensure fair trials for dissidents now appearing before judges in closed court sessions.

Two weeks ago, four defense lawyers, Nyi Nyi Htwe, Kyaw Kyaw Min, Aung Thein and Khin Maung Shein were imprisoned for up to six months for contempt of court after complaining of unfair treatment.

Four other defense lawyers, Kyaw Hoe, Maung Maung Latt, Myint Thaung and Khin Htay Kyi have been barred from representing their clients since November 5, according to Kyaw Hoe. The lawyers are representing several dissidents, including members of the 88 Generation Students group.

“I asked a prison authority why I was not allowed to appear in court,” said Kyaw Hoe. “He said there was no reason and that the order had come from higher officials.”

Members of the 88 Generation Students group were now appearing daily in court without their defense lawyers, Kyaw Hoe said.

Two lawyers, Myint Thaung and Khin Htay Kyi, who represent the prominent labor activist Su Su Nway, withdrew from court proceedings at the weekend, citing unfair treatment, according to the accused’s sister, Htay Htay Kyi.

Htay Htay Kyi said Su Su Nway would be sentenced on Tuesday. The winner of the 2006 John Humphrey Freedom Award was originally charged with “threatening the stability of the government,” under articles 124, 130 and 505 of the penal code, but new charges have now been added.

In a statement in Washington, the US State Department criticized the imprisonment of the four defense lawyers and urged the Burmese regime to drop all charges and release them.

Deputy Spokesman Robert Wood called on the junta to stop harassing and arresting citizens for peacefully practicing their internationally recognized human rights, to release all political prisoners, and to start a genuine dialogue with democratic forces and ethnic minority groups for democratic reform in Burma.

Correction: November 12, 2008

In its online report ‘Young Burmese Blogger Sentenced to more than 20 Years in Jail,’
(Monday, November 10), The Irrawaddy erroneously said Nay Phone Latt, a Rangoon blogger, had been convicted and sentenced for posting a cartoon depicting junta leader Snr-Gen Than Shwe on his blog site. Nay Phone Latt was in fact convicted of possessing a cartoon of the general in his email.

The Irrawaddy also erroneously reported that Nay Phone Latt’s blogs during the September 2007 uprising provided invaluable information about events in Burma. Although Nay Phone Latt was convicted under the Electronics Act, which forbids Internet contact with addresses outside Burma, there is no proof that he used his blog site to report on the events of September 2007.
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