International Press Freedom Awards

2004 IPFA Aung Pwint and Thaung Tun


Aung Pwint and Thaung Tun
Imprisoned in Burma
Aung Pwint, a documentary filmmaker, editor, and poet, and Thaung Tun, an editor, filmmaker, and poet better known by his pen name, Nyein Thit, were arrested separately in Burma in early October 1999 and have been imprisoned ever since. CPJ sources said they were arrested for filming independent video documentaries that portrayed the grim reality of everyday life in Burma, including footage of forced labor and hardship in rural areas. Aung Pwint worked at a private media company that produced videos for tourism and educational purposes, but he also worked with Thaung Tun on documentary-style projects. Their videotapes circulated through underground networks.

The ruling military junta had prohibited Aung Pwint from making videos in 1996 "because they were considered to show too negative a picture of Burmese society and living standards," according to Human Rights Watch. A notable poet, he has also written under the name Maung Aung Pwint.

The same year they were arrested, the two men were tried together, and each was sentenced to eight years in prison. Pwint was convicted of "illegal possession of a fax machine" and of "sending news" to banned Burmese newspapers. CPJ sources say that Pwint still plays an active role in defending press freedom from prison. Pwint's family has been severely impoverished as a result of his imprisonment, and Tun is reportedly suffering from a brain ailment as a result of his confinement.


LINKS

"Burmese prisoners given journalist awards," Democratic Voice of Burma

"Heroes of Press Freedom," Washington Post, November 23, 2004

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