U Tha Win, Kyemon, October 2, 1999, Rangoon
Journalists U Hla Han and U Tha Win, both employees of the state-owned Burmese newspaper Kyemon (The Mirror), were allegedly tortured to death by military intelligence agents, according to an October 7 report carried by the Oslo-based Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB).
DVB said that 27 employees of the newspaper were taken in for interrogation shortly after the newspaper’s September 25 edition carried a picture of military intelligence chief Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt under the headline “World’s Greatest Crook.” U Hla Han died on September 27, and U Tha Win died on October 2, according to the report.
In a statement sent to Agence France-Presse (AFP), the ruling junta denied taking any action against Kyemon staff. “We did not believe it was deliberate malice…no one was detained or charged,” said the statement, which blamed the headline on an apparently inadvertent printing error.
The junta’s statement confirmed that newspaper employee U Tha Win had died, but “said he had been an alcoholic and passed away in hospital on September 30, after slipping into a coma days before the paper’s blunder,” reported AFP. The statement said that U Hla Han had retired from Kyemon 10 years ago.
In 2001, sources in Rangoon told CPJ that U Hla Han and U Tha Win were indeed punished for the Kyemon headline and had died in official custody.