Aung Pwint, a videographer, editor, and poet, and Thaung Tun, an editor, reporter, and poet better known by his pen name, Nyein Thit, were arrested separately in early October 1999. CPJ sources said they were arrested for making independent video documentaries that portrayed 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 military government 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, which awarded Aung Pwint a Hellman-Hammett Grant in 2001. A notable poet, he has also written under the name Maung Aung Pwint.
The two men were tried together, and each was sentenced to eight years in prison, according to CPJ sources. Aung Pwint was initially jailed at Insein Prison but was later transferred to Tharawaddy Prison, according to CPJ sources. Thaung Tun was jailed at Moulmein Prison, according to the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma.
CPJ honored the two journalists in 2004 with International Press Freedom Awards for their courage and commitment to press freedom.