Mizzima editor Than Htike Aung released from prison

17 November 2022
Mizzima editor Than Htike Aung released from prison

Mizzima editor Than Htike Aung, who was arrested while working as a journalist and then imprisoned, has been released under an amnesty today from Yamethin Prison, Mandalay Region.

He was arrested by plainclothes junta troops on 19 March 2021, while he was outside Dakkhin Thiri court in Nay Pyi Taw covering the court case of the National League for Democracy (NLD) official Win Htein. He was arrested together with BBC Burmese correspondent Aung Thura, who was released on 22 March last year.

After his arrest, he was tortured during his six-day interrogation.

He was sentenced to two years in prison by the military junta under Section 505 (a) of the penal code on 22 March this year and he was transferred to Yamethin Prison.

Two other Mizzima journalists are still in prison.

Moreover, a father, an uncle and a brother of another Mizzima journalist were also arrested in 2021. The uncle and the father were released about a month after their arrests. But the brother of that Mizzima journalist is still in prison.

5,774 prisoners including four foreigners were also released from prison today under an amnesty marking the National Day of Myanmar.

The four foreign prisoners who were released today are Sean Turnell, Australian economist and former adviser to detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi, former British ambassador Vicky Bowman, US citizen Kyaw Htay Oo and Japanese filmmaker Toru Kubota. It was learnt that the foreigners would be immediately deported.

Kyaw Tint Swe, former Minister for the Office of the State Counsellor of the ousted NLD-led government, Than Htay, a member of the Union Election Commission, and former Chief Minister of Tanintharyi Region Dr Lae Lae Maw, who was imprisoned by NLD-led government for corruption, were also released from prisons under the amnesty.

The junta announced that those released were freed on "on the grounds of humanitarianism".

The junta’s statement did not use the phrase “political prisoners”. The statement also said that the prisoners were released on the condition that if a released prisoner commits another crime again, he/she must serve the current remaining punishments which now have been pardoned, plus the future punishments for the new crimes.

Aung Myo Min, Union Minister for Human Rights in the exiled National Unity Government, said that the reason why the junta released some political prisoners is just to polish the junta’s own election process, and “there is not a drop of gratitude [towards the junta]”.

Before this amnesty, VOA (Voice of America) reported last month that 159 journalists had been arrested following the 2021 coup and at least 59 were still in custody.