A number of journalists and bloggers have been released from prison under amnesty in Burma. Hla Hla Win, Ngwe Soe Lin, Win Maw, Sithu Zeya from exile radio and TV station Democratic Voice of Burma, freelance journalists Thant Zin Aung and Zaw Thet Htwe and the blogger Nay Phone Latt have all been released. Throughout their imprisonment, DVB ran the “Free Burma VJ” campaign, calling for the release of the journalists. Around 600 other prisoners were also freed in the amnesty on Friday. The move is the latest in a series of increasingly radical reforms over recent months.
An additional charge has been brought against Sithu Zeya, a Democratic Voice of Burma video reporter who has been detained since April 2010 and is already serving an eight-year sentence for filming damage caused by a grenade explosion in Rangoon. The reporter, 21, could now receive an additional sentence of 7 to 15 years in prison on a charge of circulating material online “that can damage tranquillity and unity in the government” under the Electronic Act. His mother has said that the confession her son gave to the police under torture that led to his first conviction will be used to sentence him for this new charge. Burma is ranked 174th out of 178 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ press freedom index.