Thirteen reporters for the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) are incarcerated in prisons across Burma. Some are serving sentences of 27 years, arbitrarily jailed for the so-called crime of exposing the truth about the regime. Their work has included the documenting of scorched-earth tactics against ethnic minorities, the murdering of monks by Burmese troops, and the ineptitude of the regime following cyclone Nargis in 2008.
The video-journalists, or VJs, have become a source of humiliation for the regime, which keeps nearly 1,546 political prisoners behind bars: among these are activists, doctors, lawyers, MPs and comedians.
The release of the VJs and Burma’s many political prisoners is a key prerequisite to democratic transition in the country, which in March swore in what it claims to be a new civilian government. Whether this government will overturn Burma’s distinction as one of the world’s most dangerous countries in which to be a journalist remains to be seen, but action must be taken now.
DVB calls on the UN and ASEAN to apply pressure on the regime to free its 13 journalists. Many have been tortured and are in poor mental and physical health in prison, and only with their release can Burma begin on the long road to democratic transition.