Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Burma blogger Nay Phone Latt sentenced to 20 years in prison

This is a sad day for freedom of speech and blogging.

I previously blogged about the arrest of Nay Phone Latt, a Burmese blogger, back in January 2008. According to the Irrawaddy, Nay Phone Latt was:

. . . a major source of information for the outside world on the brutal regime crackdown on the September 2007 uprising. . . [providing] invaluable information about events within the locked-down country.

Reporter Without Borders (RSF) reports that this blogger has just been handed down a very harsh prison sentence. RSF states that it is

. . . appalled by the combined sentence of 20 years and six months in prison that a special court in Insein prison passed today on a young blogger, Nay Phone Latt. A poet, Saw Wai, was sentenced to two years in prison for a poem containing a coded criticism of Gen. Than She, the head of the military junta.

"The authorities have imposed an extraordinarily severe punishment on Nay Phone Latt just for using the Internet," the two organisations said. . . . 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 added: "There is an urgent need now for bloggers all over the world to demonstrate their solidarity with Nay Phone Latt . . . "

CNN reports on the sentencing of Saw Wai, who wrote a poem critical of the junta leader:

The first words of each line in the eight-line poem, "February the Fourteenth" spelled out the message: "Senior General Than Shwe is crazy with power."

You can read interviews with a number of Burmese behind the 2007 protests, including my reports from the Thai-Burma border, and my trips inside Burma in the aftermath of protests and brutal crackdown here.

Nay Phone Latt's blog (Burmese). Top left photo shows Ko Nay Phone Latt; right photo shows poet Saw Wai.


  1. Good morning Jotman.

    Actually the coded poem was written by Saw Wai, not by Nay Phone Latt. Anyway, that doesn't change the essence.

    There are more dreadful news about sentences:

    Best regards.


  2. Thanks and good morning Enzo. It's fixed now.

  3. Dear Jotman,

    I have just started a General Than Shwe Poetry Competition to raise awareness about this. Why not drop by and make an entry or spread the word:

  4. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



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