New York, February 14, 2002—CPJ welcomes the release yesterday of Burmese journalist Myo Myint Nyein, former editor of the magazine Pe-Phu-Hlwar, who was freed along with four other political prisoners during a visit by United Nations envoy Paulo Sergio Pinheiro.
Myo Myint Nyein had served more than 11 years of a 14-year prison term.
“CPJ is extremely pleased that Myo Myint Nyein is finally free,” said CPJ executive director Ann Cooper. “But he should never have been arrested in the first place, and 11 of his colleagues remain in jail for doing their professional duty as journalists.”
Myo Myint Nyein was arrested in September 1990 along with Sein Hlaing, the publisher of Pe-Phu-Hlwar. The two were imprisoned for publishing a pamphlet featuring a satirical poem entitled “Bar Dwae Phyit Kon Byi Lae” (What’s Happening To Us?), which the Burmese junta claimed was anti-government propaganda. They were each sentenced to seven years in prison.
On March 28, 1996, Myo Myint Nyein and Sein Hlaing were among at least 22 other prisoners accused of contributing to clandestine publications, including a report describing prison conditions that was delivered to Yozo Yokota, who was then the United Nations special rapporteur for human rights in Burma. After a summary trial inside Insein Prison, they each received additional seven-year sentences.
Sein Hlaing is still jailed in Burma, along with 10 other journalists.