BURMA - WOMAN JOURNALIST JAILED & CAMPAIGN FOR HER SUPPORT
Truth Tellers of
It’s been two years almost to the day that Hla Hla Win
vanished. The 27-year-old Burmese journalist had been on an assignment in
Hla Hla Win was a video journalist working for Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), a Norwegian-based news organisation, highly respected for its independent reporting from inside the tightly controlled country.
DVB is viewed by rulers of
Hla Hla Win was charged for
After the Saffron revolution of 2007, pictures and footage of the massive monk-led protests and the following repression were widely disseminated by the internet. Since then, most of the protestors who were arrested and harshly punished by the state were charged under the Electronics Act, which carries a minimum sentence of 20 years imprisonment.
While Hla Hla Win serves her prison sentence in Kathar under difficult conditions, hundreds of people from around the world came together last week to express their solidarity towards her struggle. A campaign called Free Burma VJ, led by DVB, kicked off last week in
Protesters gathered outside the Burmese embassies in these cities holding placards, wearing masks and t-shirts to demand the release of Hla Hla Win and that of 17 other detained DVB journalists.
Geraldine May, the campaign coordinator for Free Burma VJ condemns the repressive laws: “They are excuses that the government uses to arrest journalists working for DVB. They first arrest the journalists under suspicion of violating these laws and interrogate and torture them further to gain information,” she says.
The campaign hopes to raise
awareness about the harsh treatment meted out to Burmese journalists for
performing their role as watchdogs. Though the junta makes a show of ignoring
dissidents, May believes that in reality, they’re keeping a close eye on
developments: “ We know that many users in
No press freedom
According to the latest survey conducted by Reporters Without Borders,
Foreign journalists can only
Soe Thwe*, a DVB journalist in
He explains that he often disguises himself before going for an assignment. “I sometimes wear a scarf, sometimes glasses, sometimes even a fake moustache. The military intelligence is always around and I don’t want to be noticed,” Soe Thwe says.
Another DVB VJ from
These people - the journalists of DVB and others like them – are the keepers of the truth in a country that has in effect declared truth to be Public Enemy No. 1. And they are clear about the reasons why they take such appalling risks day after day: “I love my country. This is not how it’s supposed to be. It has to be free. There has to be democracy and I will do whatever I can to promote democracy,” says Myen Thu.
*Some of the names in this piece have been changed.