11/10/2008, 00.00
MYANMAR

Burmese blogger sentenced to 20 years for "mocking" General Than Shwe

According to the accusation, Nay Phone Latt offended the leader of the junta. He was a valuable source of information during the weeks of oppression against the protagonists of the "saffron revolution," in September of 2007. A poet has also been sentenced to two years in prison.

Yangon (AsiaNews) - A young Burmese blogger, a valuable source of information during the bloody repression of monks in September of 2007, has been sentenced to 20 years and six months in prison. According to the official charges, he is guilty of slandering a high state official.

28-year-old Nay Phone Latt (in the photo) was arrested on January 29, 2008, and found guilty by a tribunal set up in the prison of Insein, in Yangon, where he is currently detained; he is accused of publishing a cartoon considered "offensive" toward the head of the military junta, General Than Shwe, on his blog. The newspaper The Irrawaddy reports that Nay's colleague and friend, Thin July Kyaw, has been sentenced to two years in prison. The latest episode of repression by the ruling dictatorship has been denounced by Nay Phone Latt's mother, Aye Than.

In September of 2007, on the pages of his website, the young man recounted the massacres carried out by the junta against Burmese monks, becoming a valuable source of information for the international media. On September 26, 2007, the decision of military leaders to attack the protagonists of the "saffron revolution" left 31 dead - according to official estimates, although many more were killed - including a Japanese journalist, who was shot to death. Another 74 people are still "officially disappeared," in addition to thousands of arrests among monks and activists.

Sources in Yangon also reveal that the military regime has sentenced the dissident poet Saw Wai to two years in prison: he was accused of publishing a poem mocking Than Shwe in the weekly Love Journal. At the beginning of each stanza was the line "General Than Shwe is mad with power."

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