Myanmar: Six journalists accused by junta of disturbing public order

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The situation in Myanmar is still tense. In fact, the “fire” is approaching more and more people. Specifically, charges were recited in 6 journalists, among whom is a photographer of the American news agency Associated Press (AP), for violating a law on public order, which was recently amended by the junta, as it became known today by their lawyer.

Thein Zau, a 32-year-old AP photographer, was arrested in Rangoon on Saturday while covering a pro-democracy rally in Myanmar’s financial capital. Four other journalists working for publications in the country and another working as a freelancer were also arrested.

They were taken into custody at Rangoon Insein Prison, where many political prisoners have served heavy sentences under the country’s previous dictatorships, said their lawyer, Tin Zar Ooo.

These prosecuted for violating an article of the criminal code, which was amended by the junta a few days after the February 1 coup, with the aim of ending the campaign of political disobedience launched against the military coup.

This text now targets anyone who “caused fear in the population, spread false information (…) or incited disobedience and infidelity among public servants” against the authorities.

The prescribed sentences were increased to up to three years in prison, against up to two that were previously.

“The Associated Press condemns in the strongest terms the arbitrary detention of Thein Zau,” Ian Phillips told AP International News. He added, according to the APE-MPE: “Freelance journalists should be allowed to broadcast the news freely and safely without fear of retaliation.”

Disruption of the internet, strengthening of the legislative arsenal, arrests, use of deadly violence to disperse the protests: the junta has not stopped intensifying its repression of protests after the coup that overthrew the political government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

Representatives of the media are targeted by the junta

Journalists are particularly targeted: 34 have been arrested since February 1st, 19 of whom are still being held, according to a non-governmental political prisoner aid organization.

On Monday (01/03), one of them, Kaung Miat Hlaing, was arrested at his home in the south of the country in a security force operation, during which shots were heard.

Others were injured by rubber bullets, mostly two employees of the Chinese news agency Xinhua (New China).

“We call on the Myanmar authorities to order the immediate and unconditional release of all detained journalists and to drop the charges against them,” said Daniel Bastar, head of the Asia-Pacific bureau. of Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

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