Lazing La Htoi

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Burmese documentary filmmaker La Htoi was detained in Myitkyina, the capital of the northern Kachin State, for filming and distributing footage of extreme flooding that hit the region in late July.

La Htoi shot footage of the record floods with his personal video camera and then made 300 copies for distribution, according to The Irrawaddy, a newspaper run by exiled Burmese journalists in Thailand. Local authorities arrested him on July 27 while he was copying the footage, and he remained in custody of military intelligence, according to CPJ sources.

The Cyber Computer Center, where the video was copied, was closed and ordered to recall all 300 copies of the footage before they were distributed overseas, according to The Irrawaddy.

La Htoi, 47, runs a private printing house and has produced video documentaries for the Metta Foundation, a U.S.-based organization founded on Buddhist principles that is one of the few nongovernmental agencies permitted to assist in rural development in Burma. Private video production companies are not allowed in Burma, although foundations and nongovernmental agencies are permitted to produce educational videos.

Burma’s official newspaper, Kyemon, did not report any extensive damage from the floods, according to The Irrawaddy, but La Htoi’s video included footage of a dead body and an interview with a local resident citing many casualties, according to CPJ sources.