Protests urged as Myanamr jails blogger for 20 years

November 11th, 2008 - 9:28 am ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Nov 11(IANS) Reporters Without Borders Monday called on bloggers worldwide to protest the jailing of a fellow blogger by the Myanmar military junta for criticising it.In a statement in Montreal, Reporters Without Borders and the Burma Media Association in Canada said that a Myanmar court Monday jailed blogger Nay Phone Latt for 20 years and six months for criticizing military junta head Gen Than Shwe.

A poet, Saw Wai, was also sentenced to two years in prison for writing a poem critical of the junta head.

“The authorities have imposed an extraordinarily severe punishment on Nay Phone Latt just for using the Internet,” the two organisations said in their statement.

“This shocking sentence is meant to terrify those who go online in an attempt to elude the dictatorship’s ubiquitous control of news and information, and we call for his immediate release.

“Saw Wai, for his part, is being made to pay for his impertinence and courage as a committed poet.”

The two organisations called upon bloggers all over the world to protest against Nay Phone Latt’s arrest by carrying his photo on their blogs and writing to Burmese embassies worldwide to seek his release.

“Similarly, we call on poets to defend fellow poet Saw Wai, who has been jailed just because of one poem.”

The two organisations said Nay Phone Latt’s mother was not allowed to attend the trial inside the prison at Insein.

“I was expecting him to get 10 or 12 years in prison at the most. I never imagined he would get this much. The authorities have been excessively cruel with him,” the statement quoted the mother of the jailed blogger as saying.

Reporters Without Borders also called on Pakistan to probe the death of journalist Qari Muhammad Shoaib who was shot in his car by soldiers in Mingora in the Swat Valley Nov 8.

The 32-year-old reporter, who worked with a local newspaper Khabar Kar and contributed to a national daily, was killed while driving a family member as he returned home, the statement said.

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