Burma VJ - Academy Award Nominee – Best Documentary Feature - UK film release

The co-operative presents A Film By ANDERS ØSTERGAARD

Armed with video-cameras a tenacious band of Burmese reporters face down death to expose the repressive regime controlling their country

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Free the VJs


Free the Burma VJ Political Prisoners

showYourSupport.gif The VJs and individual activists in this film took great personal risks to get this story out to the world. A number of them are currently incarcerated as a result of their roles in the Saffron Revolution. After careful consideration of each case, the DVB decided to campaign on behalf of the following individuals: Htin Kyaw, Su Su Nway, Ohn Than, Sithu Maung, Ko Win Maw. This is the first time it has ever released names for such a campaign.

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Htin Kyaw

Age 45


25 August 2007, protesting against rising commodity prices

Sentence: 12.5 years


Htin Kyaw called for lower commodity prices, better healthcare and education and reliable power supplies – he was arrested at protest rally in April 2007 and detained for over two months. After his release, Htin Kyaw again demanded that the junta resolve the problem of rising commodity and fuel prices. When this request was ignored, he called for nationwide protests and was arrested as a result.

In prison

Htin Kyaw began a hunger strike at the end of November 2007 to protest at conditions in prison and to call for the release of all political prisoners. As a result, he was placed in solitary confinement and denied family visits.

In March 2008 he was transferred to a very small dark cell normally used as a dog kennel as punishment for shouting political slogans against the regime and the upcoming national referendum.


Ohn Than photo

Ohn Than

Age 61


23 August 2007, for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of speech.

Sentence: life impisonment


Well-known in Burma for his solo protests, Ohn Than is a prominent political prisoner who has already spent long periods in jail. In the 1988 nationwide demonstrations, he led the uprising in Shwe Ku Township, for which he was sentenced to eight years in prison.

He was arrested again in 1996 for distributing pamphlets encouraging people to hold demonstrations, and received seven years imprisonment.

On September 21 2004, he was arrested for staging a solo protest outside the UN Development Program office in Rangoon. He was holding a poster calling for a free and fair parliament to be established under the direct supervision of the UN, and for a UN commission to be forced to investigate the deadly attack on the NLD's motorcade in the northern town of Depayin in May 2003, in which many opposition supporters were killed by government-backed thugs. He was sentenced to two years imprisonment.

On 25 April 2007, he staged a solo protest in front of NLD headquarters in Rangoon, again calling for people's parliament to be established. He was detained for 2 months. Ohn Than was arrested on 23 August 2007 for staging another solo protest in front of the US Embassy in Rangoon. He was dressed in prisoner uniform to illustrate that Burmese people are prisoners in their own country, and held up a poster with a list of national and international demands. He was dragged into a white Toyota Publica by plain clothed security agents.

Su Su Nway photo

Su SU Nway

Age 36 (approx)


13 November 2007, for erecting a banner containing anti-government messages.

Sentence: 12.5 years, later redused to 8.5 years


Su Su Nway was arrested for putting up an anti-government banner near a hotel where UN Human Rights Envoy Paulo Pinheiro was staying at the time. Eyewitnesses said three activists were hanging the banner underneath a government propaganda billboard, which read: “Oppose those relying on Americans, acting as stooges, holding negative views”. “The message Su Su Nway and her group hung underneath the government billboard said, ”Oppose those relying on China, acting as thieves, holding murderous views”.

In prison

Su Su Nway suffers from a heart condition. She was transferred to solitary confinement in Insein prison and denied family visits after asking prison authorities for better medical care.

Si Thu Maung photo

Si Thu Maung

Age 22


9 October 2007

Sentence: 11 years


Si Thu Maung is a first-year mathematics student at West Rangoon University and a prominent figure in the All Burma Federation of Student Unions.

His lawyer said: "The prosecutors stated in the court hearing that activities of Si Thu Maung, including his act as a leader of the ABFSU, held a threat against tranquillity of the state. We countered that by pointing out that the ABFSU had existed in Burma and had taken part in the revolutions in our country's history since 1920... We stated that the ABFSU is not harming state tranquility and the rule of law and that it's only a group of intellectual, educated and patriotic student leaders who are highlighting people’s suffering."

Before they were able to arrest Si Thu Maung, authorities detained his parents for not opening the door to officials quickly enough when they came to search for him. They were each sentenced to six years’ imprisonment in August for obstructing police investigations.

Ko Win Maw Photo

Ko Win Maw

Age 46


November 2007 for composing songs with political messages

Sentence: 11 years


Ko Win Maw is a musician. In 1996, he was arrested and imprisoned for composing ‘Spirit of the Fighting Peacocks, a song about political leader Aung San Suu Kyi. He was released in 2002, and set up a band called AlinkarTaygita. He was arrested again in November 2007 for composing political songs and sending news to the DVB.



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