Hla Hla Win, an undercover reporter with the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), was arrested while on a reporting assignment in Pakokku Township, Magwe Division, where she had conducted interviews with Buddhist monks in a local monastery. Her assistant, Myint Naing, was also arrested, according to the independent Asian Human Rights Commission.
Hla Hla Win was working on a story for the second anniversary of the 2007 Saffron Revolution, in which Buddhist monk-led protests were put down by lethal military force, according to her DVB editors. In October 2009, a Pakokku Township court sentenced Hla Hla Win and Myint Naing to seven years in prison each on charges of using an illegally imported motorcycle in violation of the Import/Export Act, and not registering as guests in Pakokku in violation of the Cities Act.
After being interrogated in prison, Hla Hla Win was sentenced to an additional 20 years in prison on December 30, 2009, on charges of violating the Television and Video Act and Electronics Act. Myint Naing was sentenced to an additional 25 years under the Electronics Act, the Asian Human Rights Commission said. The act allows for harsh prison sentences for anyone who uses electronic media to send information outside the country without government approval.
Hla Hla Win first joined DVB as an undercover reporter in December 2008. According to her editors, she played an active role in covering issues considered sensitive to the government, including local reaction to the controversial 2009 trial of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma said that Hla Hla Win was not provided legal representation during the trial. The court refused to hear her appeal in April 2010, and her family members publicly disowned her because of her activities, the association said. She has been transferred to Katha Prison, which the Canadian human rights group Centre for Law and Democracy characterized as a labor prison.
In 2010, Hla Hla Win received the Kenji Nagai Memorial Award, an honor bestowed on Burmese journalists in memory of the Japanese photojournalist shot and killed by Burmese troops while covering the 2007 Saffron Revolution. The award was created by APF, a Japanese video news agency, and the Burma Media Association, an exile-run press freedom group.
An initial report that the media assistant Myint Naing was among those released in an October 2011 government amnesty proved not to be true.