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Jailed blogger manages to send poems written in his cell

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders appeals to the Burmese military government to release Nay Phone Latt, a young blogger who has been detained since January 2008, and all of the other prisoners of conscience so that they can take part in the general elections being held on 7 November 2010.

Despite not receiving the treatment he needs for various ailments, Nay Phone Latt continues his fight for free expression from his prison cell and Reporters Without Borders has received a number of moving poems written by him.

In one poem, he alludes to himself as "a guitar with loose cords, unable to play any tune and give meaning to the instrument, remains silent, stands quietly, and waits." Referring to free speech in Burma, he talks of "a newspaper. . . nostalgic and in mourning for this rounded [Burmese] writing."

The owner of three Rangoon Internet cafés, Nay Phone Latt was sentenced on 10 November 2008 to a total of 20 years and six months in prison for writing in his blog ( ) about the difficulties that young Burmese have encountered in their efforts to express themselves freely, especially after a wave of protests in the fall of 2007.

The sentence consisted of two years under article 505 (b) of the criminal code for "defaming the state," three years and six months for violating article 32 (b) of the Video Act and 15 years for violating article 33 (a) of the Electronic Act, because he had a banned video. His combined sentence was reduced to 12 years in prison on appeal.

Sources have told Reporters Without Borders that Nay Phone Latt's parents were able to visit him on 7 October. For five months, he was confined to his cell and was denied the right to exercise in the prison yard. He is currently in a prison in the southeast of the country with 10 other political prisoners.

He was a joint winner of the Reporters Without Borders press freedom prize in the cyber-dissident category in December 2008.

Burma is on the Reporters Without Borders list of "Enemies of the Internet" and is ranked 174th out of 178 countries in the press freedom index that Reporters Without Borders released on 20 October.

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