Photojournalist faces additional jail term

Source  : Mizzima

A court in Rangoon rejected an appeal by photojournalist Sithu Zeya, to drop a charge under the Electronics Transactions Law on 9 August for taking pictures of the bomb explosions at the Rangoon water festival in 2010, according to family members.

[UPDATE, 15 September : Photojournalist gets ten more years in jail On 15 Sept, the Rangoon East District Court sentenced DVB reporter Sithu Zeya to ten years in jail for violation of the Electronic Transactions Law, also known as the Electronic Act, making him to serve in total eighteen years in jail for taking picture of bomb explosions at the Rangoon water festival last year. ]

With this additional charge, Sithu Zeya – who is currently serving an eight-year sentence under the Immigration Act and Unlawful Association Act since Dec 2010-faces another seven to 15 years in prison, if the Mingalar Taungnyunt Township Court in Rangoon Region finds him guilty.

The court already sentenced in February Sithu Zeya’s father and fellow journalist with the Norway-based Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), Maung Maung Zeya, to thirteen years in jail under the same three laws. He was arrested shortly after Sithu in April 2010. Besides being an underground reporter, Maung Maung is a political dissident. He is now serving his sentence in the Hsipaw Prison in Northern Shan State, about 560 miles from Rangoon.

Sithu was charged under Section 33 of the Electronic Transactions Law in June last year. According to his lawyer, 
Aye Thein, the judges rejected the appeal in a hearing on 9 August where Sithu’s mother testified as witness. A family member told Mizzima that he is now in solitary confinement in the Insein Prison after family members reported torture to the Ministry of Home Affairs and prison authority. They were told that interrogations have stopped.

Section 33 of the Electronic Transactions Law 2004 prohibits a citizen from disseminating by electronic means information deemed threatening the security of the government. Its notoriety was first noticed when it was used along with the Import Export Act to mete a total of twenty years in jail sentence to Hla Hla Win, another reporter from DVB in 2009. It was also used to threaten members of the now illegal NLD for posting media statements online.

In July, journalist associations and press freedom advocate groups issued a joint statement calling the Burmese government to end its routine persecution of journalists, especially when it came to light that the Sithu was tortured to admit that Maung Maung is a fellow underground journalist.


Mizzima News (http://www.mizzima.com/) is a news organization headquartered in New Delhi, India, run by exiled Burmese journalists. A SEAPA partner, it aims to promote awareness about the situation in Burma and promote democracy and freedom of expression in the country.