Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Detained sport editor allowed a rare meeting with family - Zaw Thet Htwe

By Phanida

Chiang Mai (Mizzima)– Sports columnist Zaw Thet Htwe, who was arrested for assisting cyclone victims in Burma's Irrawaddy delta, was finally allowed to meet his family at notorious Insein prison on Tuesday (5 Aug).

After being detained for about two months, Zaw Thet Htwe was produced before the court for the first time last Wednesday (30 Jul), but was denied meeting his family.

"We had a long chat… His health is good but he is a little thinner," said his wife, Khaing Cho Zaw Win Tin, adding she could deliver things she brought for him.

Khaing Cho Zaw Win Tin said she is privilege to meet her husband after two months as many detainees do not always enjoy the same opportunity in Burma, a country ruled by military dictators.

"We are glad to see him again after two months because some are only allowed to meet their families after three or four months. He was calm and stable when he met his daughter, who came along," she added.

After more than a month of detention, prominent comedian cum actor Zarganar, sports editor Zaw Thet Htwe and five other persons were produced before the Rangoon West District court in the Insein prison premises on July 28.

They were reportedly charged with cases under section 505(b) of the Criminal Code, which is a charge for disturbing public tranquility, and under other sections. The court reportedly fixed August 7 for the next hearing.

Defendant counsel Khin Maung Shein said, "We heard that there are at least six cases against them. We will know the details after seven days."

Reportedly, comedian Zarganar, who was arrested on June 4 for helping cyclone victims, was also allowed to meet his family on Monday. Zaw Thet Htwe was arrested on June 13.

Zaw Thet Htwe, however, was not arrested for the first time. He was earlier arrested for writing an article on corruption among the Burmese sports community and was sentenced to death on November 28, 2003.

But his sentence was later commuted to three years' imprisonment and he was released after serving his prison terms.

Similarly, Zarganar was also detained for 21 days after offering alms to the protesting monks in September 2007.

In their latest arrest, they were detained in unknown places for about a month and their families were not informed when they were first produced before the court.

Though the court had earlier fixed the date for hearing the cases of a few other activists on Tuesday, the activists were not produce before the court. Though the reason for not producing the activists is unknown, it is believe that it might be due to the UN Special Rapporteur Tomas Ojea Quintana's visit to Insein prison.

The court had earlier fixed Tuesday for the hearing of the cases of blogger Nay Phone Latt, student leader Sithu Maung, Myo Thant from Human Right Promoters and Defenders (HRPD), 2007 generation student leaders Zin Lin Aung, Thein Swe, Ye Min Oo, Ye Myat Hein and Kyi Phyu.

Khin Maung Shein said, the cases of Sithu Maung, blogger Nay Phone Latt and six others were fixed to be heard on Tuesday but they were not produce at the court as the UN Human Rights Special Rapporteur entered Insein prison, annex hall in the afternoon.

"He [Quintana] entered at about 1:30 p.m. He came out at about 2 p.m. and then again entered the main jail. We were there till 4 p.m. but he hasn't yet come out. Then we asked the court for the next hearing date and left the prison. Till that time, the Special Rapporteur was still inside the prison," he added.

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