NUJP protests ‘inhuman’ prison term for Burmese journs

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Friday, July 11, 2014

THE National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) is protesting what it deems as an “inhuman” sentence meted Thursday by a Burmese court on four reporters and a media executive who were found guilty of “publishing state secrets and trespassing.”

The Burmese publication The Irrawaddy reported the Pakokku Township Court has ruled that reporters Lu Maw Naing, Sithu Soe, The Yazar Oo and Aung Thura, and their news organization’s chief executive officer Tin Hsan be imprisoned for 10 years and undergo hard labor.

The five belong to the weekly journal Unity, which published last January 25 a report, including photos, of a military facility in Magwe Division allegedly used to manufacture chemical weapons.


Four of the five men are in their 20s: Lu Maw Naing, 28, Sithu Soe, 22, The Yazar Oo, 28, and Aung Thura, 25. Tin Hsan is already 52.

“These developments make it all too clear that democracy and respect for basic rights, including freedom of the press and of expression, remain furthest from the minds of Myanmar’s leaders,” read a solidarity statement issued by the NUJP on Friday.

“We stand by our Burmese colleagues and urge media organizations in Southeast Asia and all over the world to raise our voices in collective protest against this outrage,” said NUJP chair Rowena Carranza-Paraan.

“We know how difficult it is for the press to operate under the shadow of military boots,” Paraan added.

The five men have reportedly been in military custody since they were detained by Burmese police shortly after the January 25 publication.

The Irrawaddy noted the case was filed by the office of President Thein Sein, which was quite unusual.

Thein Sein, a retired general and former prime minister under the military junta, rose to the presidency in March 2011 right after parliamentary elections in November 2010 that was widely touted to have ushered Myanmar into the democratic road.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on July 12, 2014.

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