Thaung Tun, an editor, filmmaker, and poet better known as Nyein Thit, was arrested on October 4, 1999, and subsequently sentenced on December 3, 1999, to eight years in prison for collecting and disseminating human rights-related information outside of the country, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma (AAPPB), a prisoner assistance group based in Thailand.
The films depicted topics that exposed chronic mismanagement and human rights abuses under military rule, including footage of forced labor and images of grinding poverty in rural areas. His videotapes were circulated through underground networks inside and outside the country, and copies were eventually captured by military intelligence officials, according to the Burma Media Association, an exiled press freedom advocacy group.
The 47-year-old Thaung Tun was a longtime journalist with the Padaut Pwint Thit magazine, which the government shuttered in 1995. He was also a member of the opposition National League for Democracy party and spent three years in prison for his political activities in the late 1970s. He is currently detained at Moulmein prison in southern Burma, 625 miles (1,000 kilometers) away from his family in Mandalay, according to the AAPPB.
CPJ honored Thaung Tun and his videographer colleague Aung Pwint, who was also imprisoned for his role in making the unauthorized documentaries, with 2004 International Press Freedom Awards. Aung Pwint was released in 2005.