Blogger begins second month of detention, Internet still closely monitored

Blogger begins second month of detention, Internet still closely monitored

Reporters Without Borders and the Burma Media Association today
condemned increased government monitoring of the Internet and a
deterioration in online connections, as well as the continuing
detention of Nay Phone Latt, a blogger and owner of two Rangoon
Internet cafés who was arrested on 29 January.


“Nay Phone Latt has been unjustly held for a month,” the two
organisations said. “He was initially accused of undermining morality
under the Emergency Provision Act, a very vague charge that allows the
military government to arrest anyone spreading ideas that challenge its
policies. He is now alleged to have been in possession of a film it
considers contrary to its ideology and faces up to three years in
prison. We call for his release.”

He was initially charged under
section 5 (J) of the 1950 Emergency Provision Act, which punishes
anyone who “causes or intends to disrupt the morality or the behaviour
of a group of people or the general public, or to disrupt the security
or the reconstruction of stability of the union.”

But according to his family, a new charge has been brought against him under the Television and Video Law ( http://www.blc-burma.org/html/myanmar%20law/lr_e_ml96_08.html
) that gives the government control over political content and provides
for a sentence of up to three years in prison for offenders.

It
appears that Nay Phone Latt has been charged under section 32 b of this
law, which punishes “copying, distributing, hiring or exhibiting
videotape that has no video censor certificate,” because he had a video
of a traditional Burmese play called “A-Nyeint” performed by the
theatre company “Thu-Lay-Thi.” Its performances are currently banned in
Burma.

Meanwhile, in a move to step up control of Internet
cafés, owners have been required since January to keep the records of
their clients’ online activity and deliver them each week to a special
police unit at the department of information. At the same time,
according to Irrawaddy ( http://www.irrawaddy.org/
), a publication produced by Burmese exiles in Thailand, “the Burmese
regime’s network of informers are now focusing their attention on
Internet cafés, which are replacing traditional teashops as places
where people can discreetly share their views with others.”

Internet
connections have also become much slower, possibly to discourage
Internet users from downloading large files such as photos and videos.
Observed for the past few weeks, this slowness also prevents the use of
software designed to circumvent censorship.

Reporters Without
Borders and the Burma Media Association also call on the authorities to
explain the continuing detention of Myanmar Nation editor Thet Zin and
his office manager, Sein Win Maung. Police arrested them during a raid
on the magazine’s office on 15 February after reportedly finding they
had downloaded forbidden documents from Internet but no official reason
has been given. The office has been closed.

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