Reporters Without Borders and the Burma Media Association are outraged by last week’s imposition of an additional severe jail sentence on Kaung Myat Hlaing, a blogger already serving a two-year sentence in Insein prison.
Also known by the blogging name of Nat Soe, he was tried secretly inside the prison and was sentenced to a further 10 years in jail under the Electronic Acts for allegedly participating in a poster campaign calling for the release of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners. The trial was held behind closed doors.
Reporters Without Borders and the Burma Media Association point out the illogicality of convicting Kaung Myat Hlaing of activities in support Suu Kyi’s release when Suu Kyi has since been released by the Burmese authorities.
The blogger was removed from his cell prior to the trial and was held for 10 days in an interrogation room, where he was deprived of food and sleep until he confessed to having belonged to a dissident group called “The Best Fertiliser.”
He was arrested in April 2010 after bombs were set off at the Water Festival in Rangoon. Although it was established that he had nothing to do with the bombings, the authorities continued to hold him and gave him a two-year jail sentence at the end of an absurd trial.
Initially jailed on a trumped-up charge, Kaung Myat Hlaing has now been convicted again on the basis of a confession under torture. Everything about the methods used by the Burmese judicial system reveals a determination to ruthlessly crush free speech defenders and trample on fundamental rights.
Burma was ranked 174th out of 178 counties in the 2010 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index. It is also one of the countries on the Reporters Without Borders list of “Enemies of the Internet.”