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Asia-pacific

Journalists and activists released as part of amnesty deal

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-09-18

Myanmar's ruling military junta on Friday freed two journalists who helped victims of 2008's Cyclone Nargis reach a UN aid office, and released several opposition activists as part of an amnesty granted to more than 7,000 prisoners.

AFP - Myanmar's junta Friday freed two journalists who helped victims of Cyclone Nargis and released several opposition activists as part of an amnesty for more than 7,000 prisoners, witnesses said.
   
One of the freed journalists was Eint Khaing Oo, 28, who was arrested in 2008. This year she became the first recipient of an award set up in memory of a Japanese video reporter who was killed in monk-led protests in 2007.
   
"I am happy that I am free. I will continue working as a journalist," Eint Khaing Oo, who worked for the Myanmar-based journal Ecovision, told reporters after she was released from Yangon's notorious Insein Prison.
   
The other journalist was Kyaw Kyaw Thant, who was arrested at the same time as her after they took a group of survivors of the May 2008 cyclone to the United Nations head offices in Yangon.
   
Both were mentioned in a Human Rights Watch report published on Wednesday which said that the number of political prisoners in Myanmar had doubled to more than 2,200 in the two years since the protest crackdown.
   
Nargis killed around 138,000 people and left thousands more homeless after battering southwestern Myanmar. The military regime's slow response to the disaster drew international criticism.
   
Eint Khaing Oo was serving a two-year jail sentence for allegedly inciting hatred of the government while Kyaw Kyaw Thant was sentenced to seven years for the same crime.
   
Also freed on Friday was Nine Nine, a member of the National League for Democracy Party of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. He won a seat in elections in 1990 which were later annulled by the military.
   
"I will continue to be a politician," said Nine Nine, who was serving a 21-year sentence and had been in jail since September 2000.
   
"I will join the NLD again because I will always be an NLD member. Being released from prison is good, they have done what they should have done," he told reporters.
   
Another leading member of the NLD, Than Than Htay, who was sentenced to seven years' jail in 2004, was also freed.
 

Date created : 2009-09-18

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