Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Blogger Gets 20 Years in Prison

(Rangoon, Burma) A 28-year-old Burmese blogger, Nay Phone Latt, has been sentenced to 20 and one-half years in prison after questionable charges were rammed through a one-sided court proceeding.

Simply put, Latt is going to prison because the military junta became outraged by his reporting of actual events and circumstances in Burma (Myanmar) on his blog.

From an RSF.org press release:
Reporters Without Borders and the Burma Media Association are appalled by the combined sentence of 20 years and six months in prison that a special court in Insein prison passed today on a young blogger, Nay Phone Latt. A poet, Saw Wai, was sentenced to two years in prison for a poem containing a coded criticism of Gen. Than She, the head of the military junta.

"The authorities have imposed an extraordinarily severe punishment on Nay Phone Latt just for using the Internet," the two organisations said.

"This shocking sentence is meant to terrify those who go online in an attempt to elude the dictatorship’s ubiquitous control of news and information, and we call for his immediate release. Saw Wai, for his part, is being made to pay for his impertinence and courage as a committed poet."

The two organisations added: "There is an urgent need now for bloggers all over the world to demonstrate their solidarity with Nay Phone Latt by posing his photo on their blogs and by writing to Burmese embassies worldwide to request his release. Similarly, we call on poets to defend their fellow-poet, Saw Wai, who has been jailed just because of one poem."
The military authorities jailed Nay Phone Latt's defense lawyer before the trial so the blogger had nobody to represent him. Additionally, Latt's mother was not allowed to attend the trial.

Nyan Win, a spokesman for the National League for Democracy (NLD), said, "The authorities are punishing the activists by investigating the cases hurriedly. There was not enough time for a defence with lawyers."

Companion post at The Jawa Report.

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