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Press FreedomAsia

Myanmar jails journalist for coup protest reports

May 13, 2021

It is one of the first guilty verdicts against a reporter since the military junta took control of Myanmar three months ago. A human rights observer said journalism is effectively illegal in the country.

A Myanmar journalist with his mouth sealed with tape, symbolizing the government's recent crackdown on media
Press freedoms have been stripped away from many media outlets in Myanmar since the coup Image: Gemunu Amarasinghe/AP/picture alliance

A court in Myanmar has sentenced a journalist to three years in prison for his reports on anti-junta protests, his organization said Thursday.

Min Nyo of the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) is one of the first media workers to be imprisoned since the military coup on February 1.

He was arrested on March 3 while covering the protests in the town of Pyay.

The DVB said he was "brutally beaten" by police and denied visits from his family.

"DVB demands the military authority release Min Nyo immediately, as well as other detained or convicted journalists around Myanmar."

Three of the DVB's journalists were detained in northern Thailand earlier this week for illegally entering the country after fleeing Myanmar.

Human rights groups and press freedom advocates, including the Committee to Protect Journalists, have urged Thailand not to deport them.

Cracking down on press freedom

The DVB, which had its license revoked by the junta, said Min Nyo was found guilty under Article 505 (a) of the penal code, which criminalizes spreading information that could incite security forces to mutiny.

Several other news outlets have had their licenses canceled in Myanmar. Amnesty International's Deputy Regional Director Emerlynne Gil said journalism has been effectively criminalized in the country.

"They risk life and liberty to shed light on the military's abuses. The military authorities are ruthless, determined to crush dissent by silencing those who seek to expose their crimes," said Gil in a statement.

The military has brutally suppressed any resistance, firing live ammunition at people and hurting protesters. According to the AAPP prisoners' aid organization, at least 785 people have been killed since the coup occurred three months ago.

More than 4,900 have been imprisoned and arrest warrants have been issued for at least 1,600 people.

A Burmese protester speaks out

kbd/rt (dpa, Reuters)

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