In Burma, wife of journalist released from prison

New York, October 23, 2007—The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes today’s release of Khin Mar Lar, the wife of award-winning Burmese journalist and documentary filmmaker Thaung Tun (also known as Nyein Thit), who is still in hiding. Khin Mar Lar was detained on September 25, when security agents raided her home in the central city of Mandalay. 

“The news of Khin Mar Lar’s release is welcome, but the fact that her husband is still in hiding shows that the crackdown on journalists in Burma is ongoing,” said Joel Simon, CPJ’s executive director. “It is time for the government to drop from its policies of intimidation and detention and allow journalists and all of Burma’s citizens to enjoy a free and open media.”

According to the Washington-based U.S. Campaign for Burma, Khin Mar Lar was taken to Police Battalion No. 4 in Plake Township, near Mandalay. She told Radio Free Asia and the exile group Democratic Voice of Asia that she had been interrogated there by police for 14 hours without food, drink, or rest. She said that after 10 days she was sent to Oo Bo Prison in Mandalay, along with other female detainees. 

Her husband, Thaung Tun, an editor, reporter, filmmaker, and poet, was honored by CPJ with an International Press Freedom Award in 2004. Thaung Tun had reportedly been active in supporting the demonstrations that swept Rangoon, Mandalay, and other parts of the country in September and October. 

Widespread international media reports say more than 2,000 people have been detained in the last two months, including a number of journalists. Many of those not detained have gone into hiding either within or outside the country. Exile groups in contact with people inside Burma are receiving reports of beatings and torture as some of the men and women rounded up after the demonstrations are being slowly released.

During a protest in September, Burmese troops shot and killed Japanese photographer Kenji Nagai, 50, of Tokyo-based video and photo agency APF News.