PEC condemns continued harassment to scribes in Myanmar

Nava Thakuria

Geneva: Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) condemns the continued arrest and imprisonment of journalists in Myanmar, and urges the military authority to release all media persons detained, arrested or imprisoned in fake cases across the southeast Asian nation. The global media safety and rights body also demanded the Burmese military rulers to withdraw the notorious electronic transactions law, under which a large number of scribes and human rights activists have been punished since the military coup in February 2021.

Media reports from Yangon, the former capital of Myanmar reveal that the military junta controlled judicial machinery imprisoned outspoken political columnist U Sithu Aung Myint for three years with hard labour on 5 October 2022. The veteran journalist, who worked for SkyNet, Frontier Myanmar, Voice of America’s Burmese service, etc was arrested from Yangon on 15 August last year. Ma Htet Htet Khine, another Burmese journalist arrested along with Sithu Aung Myint, was already sentenced to six years in prison on 15 September.

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Meanwhile, a Japanese video journalist Toru Kubota, who was arrested on 30 July from Yangon, faces a 10 years sentence term from the court on 6 October. Toru Kubota, who covered a protest demonstration against the brutal military rulers for various international media outlets like BBC, Al-Jazeera, Vice Japan, etc was accused of spreading false information about the Rohingya people. The Japanese scribe was made guilty under the new electronic law of Myanmar and also incitement.

“It’s shocking that more than 140 journalists have been arrested by the junta forces in Myanmar since last year’s coup and over 55 of them are still under military custody. Along with the censorship, military generals continued harassment and physical attacks on journalists, who dared to report critically against the regime in Naypietaw. A number of media outlets have closed their offices inside Myanmar and shifted to hideouts for relentless operation,” said Blaise Lempen, president of PEC.

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PEC’s southeast Asia representative Nava Thakuria added that the military dictators had recently opened a number of cases against the Rakhine media outlets like Narinjara News Agency, Development Media Group, Western News, etc. Narinjara editor U Khaing Myat Kyaw stated that it has become usual to target the media fraternity in Myanmar as the junta finds it difficult to face critical media columns. Days back, the military personnel raided the Narinjara office in Sittwe and it remains closed till date. However the outlet continues uploading news items both in English and Burmese language from hideouts.

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