Nay Myo Kyaw, a 28-year old blogger in Burma, has received a horrific 20 year and 6 month sentence for writing a poem viewed as a veiled criticism of the dictatorship. Another poet, Saw Wai, was given 2 years for a Valentine’s Day poem and even the lawyer, Aung Thein. for the two men was sentenced to jail.
Burma’s prisons now hold over 2000 political prisoners — most of them were imprisoned after last September’s “Saffron Revolution” led by monks.
Mr Saw Wai’s poem, entitled ‘14th February’, is hardly a raving political scribe. It contains such lines as “You have to be in love truly, madly, deeply and then you can call it real love,” it read. “Millions of people who know how to love, please clap your hands of gilded gold and laugh out loud.” However, if you take each word of each line, they spell out “Power Crazy Senior General Than Shwe”. Mr Saw Wai was arrested the next day and charged with harming “public tranquility”.
Notably, other nations like Russia saw dissidents use thinly disguised poems and stories to criticize the government. Dimitri Pisarev’s “Bees” was such an example of using ostensibly a story on lazy drones in the bee kingdom to get around Tsarist censors.
Nay Phone Latt is the owner of three internet cafés in the capital, Rangoon, and his Burmese language blog is not explicitly political.
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