World Association of News Publishers

Protest Campaign - Burma, 21 February 2011

Protest Campaign - Burma, 21 February 2011

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His Excellency President Thein Sein
President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar
Naypyidaw, Myanmar


21 February 2011

Your Excellency,

We are writing on behalf of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), to express our serious concern at the sentencing to jail for 13 years of videojournalist Maung Maung Zeya.

According to reports, on 4 February Maung Maung Zeya, who worked undercover for the Oslo-based Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), was sentenced to 13 years in jail at a secret trial held inside Insein Prison. He and his son, Sithu Zeya, also a DVB journalist, were arrested for filming the aftermath of a fatal bomb attack during last April's Buddhist New Year celebration.

Maung Maung Zeya was sentenced to five years in jail for two violations of the Unlawful Association Act, one year under the Immigration Act for crossing the Burma-Thai border illegally, and seven years under the Electronics Act. Authorities had reportedly offered to free him if he divulged the names of other undercover DVB reporters. Sithu Zeya was sentenced to eight years in jail last December on similar charges.

The court's sentence came on the same day as you were sworn into office as the country’s first civilian president after the handover of power from the military junta, under which you were prime minister. According to reports, more than 10 journalists are currently held in jail in Myanmar, making it one of the worst jailers of journalists in the world.

We respectfully remind you that the jailing of Maung Maung Zeya and Sithu Zeya for carrying out their duties as journalists violates numerous international conventions, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 19 of the Declaration states: 'Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media, regardless of frontiers.'

We call on you to take all necessary steps to ensure that Maung Maung Zeya, Sithu Zeya and all others held for exercising their right to freedom of expression are immediately released and all charges dropped. We ask you to ensure that your country lives up to its democratic claims and fully respects international standards of press freedom.

We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Yours sincerely,

Gavin O’Reilly
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers


WAN-IFRA is the global organisation for the world’s newspapers and news publishers, with formal representative status at the United Nations, UNESCO and the Council of Europe. The organization groups 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries.


Andrew Heslop's picture

Andrew Heslop


2011-02-24 01:00

In countless countries, journalists, editors and publishers are physically attacked, imprisoned, censored, suspended or harassed for their work. WAN-IFRA is committed to defending freedom of expression by promoting a free and independent press around the world. Read more ...