Aung Htun, a writer and activist, was imprisoned in February 1998 for writing and publishing a seven-volume book that documented the history of the student movement that led to the pro-democracy uprisings of 1988. He was sentenced to a total of 17 years in prison, according to information compiled by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma (AAPPB), a prisoner-assistance group based in Thailand .
He was sentenced separately to a three-year term for violating the 1962 Printers and Publishers Registration Act, the military government’s main legal instrument of official censorship; a seven-year term under the 1950 Emergency Provisions Act, which is used broadly to suppress any dissent against the regime; and another seven-year term under the 1908 Unlawful Associations Act, a draconian holdover from Burma’s colonial era under British rule, according to the AAPPB.
The writer’s health deteriorated during his detention. In 2002, Amnesty International issued an urgent appeal requesting that Aung Htun be granted access to medical treatment for complications related to growths on his feet, which had apparently inhibited his ability to walk, as well as a severe asthma condition. His health deteriorated further in subsequent years, according to the Burma Media Association, an exiled press freedom advocacy group. Amnesty International issued another appeal in July 2007 for his immediate release on humanitarian grounds.
Aung Htun’s book was released by the All Burma Federation of Student Unions on May 16, 2007. He was being held in Insein Prison in Rangoon in 2008.