After more than 14 years in prison, Ohn Kyaing and Thein Tan were released on January 3, 2005, as part of a general amnesty granted by the military junta. The two are included on CPJ’s annual imprisoned list because they remained in custody on December 31, 2004.
Ohn Kyaing and Thein Tan were among six leaders of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) who were arrested on September 6, 1990. A month later, the Information Committee of the ruling junta announced that they “had been sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment by a military tribunal for inciting unrest by writing false reports about the unrest, which occurred in Mandalay on 8 August 1990,” according to the BBC’s translation of a state radio broadcast.
The Mandalay “unrest” involved the military’s killing of four pro-democracy demonstrators. Government troops fired on the protestors–who were themselves commemorating the democracy rallies of August 8, 1988, during which hundreds were shot dead.
Ohn Kyaing, who also uses the name Aung Wint, is the former editor of the newspaper Botahtaung and one of Burma’s most prominent journalists. He retired from Botahtaung in December 1988 to become more involved in the pro-democracy movement, according to the PEN American Center. In 1990, Ohn Kyaing was elected to Parliament for the NLD, representing a district in Mandalay. (The results of the elections, which the NLD won, were never honored by the military junta.) A leading intellectual, he continued to write. Thein Tan, whose name is sometimes written as Thein Dan, is also a freelance writer and political activist associated with the NLD.
PEN reported that in mid-1991, Ohn Kyaing received an additional sentence of 10 years in prison under the 1950 Emergency Provisions Act for his involvement in drafting a pamphlet for the NLD titled “The Three Paths to Power.” Thein Tan also received an additional 10-year sentence, according to Amnesty International, presumably for the same reason.
Ohn Kyaing was imprisoned at Taungoo Prison, and Thein Tan at Thayet Prison, according to the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma.