Statement From The Free Burma VJ Campaign
The Free Burma VJ campaign is delighted to confirm the release of all the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) video journalists (VJs) in an amnesty of political prisoners on 14 January 2012.
Seventeen VJs were in prison on highly arbitrary charges when the campaign began on 3 May 2011. For security reasons, only five of the VJs were named in the campaign. Four unamed VJs had been freed during a separate amnesty on 16 May 2011. On Friday 14 January, the remaining 13 reporters for DVB, some of whom had been serving sentences of more than 60 years, were released.
The Friday amnesty saw around 300 political prisoners freed from lengthy spells in jail, including high-profile dissidents such as Min Ko Naing and Ashin Gambira. In addition, many ex-intelligence, customs and government employees, including former prime minister Khin Nyunt, was released.
Aye Chan Naing, DVB chief editor, said: ‘’ They had done great journalistic work in exchange for their freedom. We are very happy for them and their families. They are real heroes of DVB and we salute them.”
Géraldine May, the campaign coordinator, said: “The Free Burma VJ campaign won’t stop with the release of the VJs. We need to make sure they are safe and that their release is unconditional. For example, freed DVB reporter Sithu Zeya said conditions were attached to his release: if he commits any crime in the future, he will be forced to serve his full 18-year sentence. We also should keep in mind that more political prisoners remain behind bars.”