Imprisoned journalist freed

New York, July 26, 2004—Journalist Tha Ban, a former editor at Kyemon newspaper and a prominent pro-democracy activist, was released from Insein Prison in the capital, Rangoon, on July 12 after serving more than six years of his seven-year prison sentence.

According to the BBC, he was released from prison after signing a pledge not to participate in politics and will be rearrested in he engages in any activity deemed “political.”

Ban was arrested in February 1998 with Aung Htun, a writer and activist with the All Burma Federation of Student Unions, for writing a seven-volume book documenting the history of the Burmese student movement. Htun was sentenced to 17 years in prison, according to a joint report published in December 2001 by the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma and the Burma Lawyers Council. He is currently jailed at Tharawaddy Prison.

Ban, 67, is suffering from poor health, according to news reports and CPJ sources. His eyesight has deteriorated, and he has heart problems.

Nine other journalists remain behind bars in Burma, which has one of the most repressive press freedom climates in Asia.