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News photographer missing, eight other journalists still detained

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has voiced concern about a news photographer's disappearance and condemned the continuing detention of eight journalists, three of whom were arrested at the beginning of the wave of demonstrations by Buddhist monks and the ensuing crackdown. The organisation fears more arrests.

"Despite the United Nations General Assembly's condemnation and the reactions of many governments, the generals still refuse to release hundreds of detained protesters," the press freedom organisation said. "We call in particular for the immediate release of all detained journalists."

Ko Thu Ya Soe, a 30-year-old photographer who works for the German agency EPA, has been missing since the start of October 2007. He was last seen taking photos near the Sule pagoda in Rangoon. No one, not even his family, has any idea where he is.

Among the journalists still held are Win Ko Ko Latt, a reporter for "Weekly Eleven Journal" who was arrested on 27 September, Win Saing, a photographer arrested on 28 August, and Nay Linn Aung, a reporter for "7-Days Journal".

Writer Maung Yan Paing, cameraman Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi, actor Kyaw Thu and his wife, poet Ye Lwin, who is also the singer of the Mizzima Wave Band, and the comedian Zargana, also known as the "Burmese Charlie Chaplin," have all been released. Zargana, who was arrested in Rangoon on 25 September after openly supporting the monks, was freed on 17 October.

Khin Mar Lar, the wife of journalist and documentary filmmaker Nyein Thit (also known as Thaung Tun), was released on 19 October. She had been arrested on 25 September in the Mandalay suburb of Amarapura. Nyein Thit has been in hiding since the start of the demonstrations. When the security forces went to arrest him, they found only his wife and children. Although she had not taken part in any demonstration, they took his wife, leaving the children to fend for themselves. Nyein Thit was jailed in 1999 after writing about press freedom violations, and was not freed until 2004.

Five other journalists have been in prison since before the pro-democracy demonstrations. They are freelance photo-reporter Thaung Sein, Ko Moe Htun of the newspaper "Dhamah-Yate", independent journalist Ne Min, Monywa Aung-Shin of the newspaper "Sar-maw-khung" and Win Tin of the newspaper "Hanthawathi".

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