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Thursday, April 18, 2024

ON 2-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF MILITARY COUP, MYANMAR’S JUNTA MUST STOP PERSECUTING JOURNALISTS

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BANGKOK — On the second anniversary of the military’s seizure of power in Myanmar, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement demanding the junta regime immediately and unconditionally release all of the journalists targeted in the post-coup crackdown:

“Over the last two years, press freedom conditions in Myanmar have deteriorated drastically due to the military junta’s targeted harassment, imprisonment, and killing of journalists,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “The junta’s stated intent of restoring democracy through elections will lack credibility as long as Myanmar’s beleaguered press continue to live under fear and repression.”

Myanmar was the world’s third-worst jailer of journalists, with at least 42 journalists behind bars at the time of CPJ’s December 1, 2022, prison census.

Most Myanmar journalists sentenced for their work have been charged under Article 505(a) of the penal code, a broad, ill-defined anti-state provision that penalizes “incitement” and “false news” with two- and three-year prison sentences.

Among them are Myanmar Pressphoto Agency photographer Kaung Sett Lin and camera operator Hmu Yadanar Khet Moh Moh Tun, both serving three-year sentences under Article 505(a). The journalists were arrested after being seriously injured on December 5, 2021, while covering an anti-coup protest in Yangon, where security forces shot and killed several protesters.

Other journalists have been sentenced more harshly under the Counter-Terrorism Law for reporting on the many armed resistance groups fighting against military rule and related clampdowns.

They include Mekong News reporter Maung Maung Myo, currently serving a six-year sentence handed down in July 2022. He was convicted for possession of pictures and interviews with People’s Defense Forces, an array of new insurgent groups fighting against military rule.

Similarly, BBC Media Action contributor Htet Htet Khine is serving a five-year sentence under both Article 505(a) and Section 17(1) of the colonial-era Unlawful Association Act for contacting so-called “illegal organizations.”

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