New York, May 15, 2002—The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release of journalist Sein Hlaing, one of nine political prisoners freed this week by Burma’s military rulers.
The journalist had spent more than 11 years in prison.
A spokesman for the regime announced yesterday, May 14, that the prisoners, all members of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), “are in good health and reunited with their respective families.”
Their release comes a week after NLD leader and Nobel laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was freed from house arrest.
Sein Hlaing, publisher of the magazine Pe-Phu-Hlwar, and Myo Myint Nyein, the magazine’s editor, were arrested in September 1990 and sentenced to seven years in prison.
The two were jailed for publishing a pamphlet featuring a satirical poem titled “Bar Dwae Phyit Kon Byi Lae” (What’s Happening To Us?), which the Burmese junta claimed was anti-government propaganda.
On March 28, 1996, prison authorities extended Sein Hlaing and Myo Myint Nyein’s sentences by another seven years each. They were convicted, along with at least 22 others, of producing clandestine publications—including a report presented to Yozo Yokota, the United Nations special rapporteur for human rights in Burma, describing the horrific conditions of Insein Prison.
Myo Myint Nyein was released along with four other political prisoners on February 13, 2002, during a visit by United Nations envoy Paulo Sergio Pinheiro.