MYANMAR JUNTA ARRESTS TWO MORE JOURNALISTS
Two more Myanmar journalists have been arrested by junta forces, raising the number of journalists being held by the military regime to 53 as of September 16, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
Since the military’s February 1 coup, Myanmar has become the world’s second-biggest jailer of journalists, after China, said RSF.
On Wednesday night, the former editor-in-chief of Mizzima News, Ko Myo Thant, was arrested in Kangyidaunt Township, Ayeyarwady Region.
Junta forces went to Kangyidaunt after being told that Ko Myo Thant was there, and threatened to detain his aunt if he did not surrender, RSF stated in a report released on Thursday.
Channel Mandalay news agency journalist Ko Win Naing Oo was arrested on August 31 with his wife.
News of his arrest only emerged on Thursday, following a report that he has been charged under Section 505(a) of the Penal Code, which criminalizes the spreading of false comments or fake news targeting government officials. Ko Win Naing Oo faces a potential prison sentence of three years.
Since seizing power, the junta has targeted journalists with arrests, lawsuits, raids on newsrooms and violence in an effort to silence independent coverage of its daily atrocities. Over 100 journalists and media workers have been detained. In some cases, relatives of journalists have been held as hostages to force the journalists to turn themselves in.
“The arrests of [Ko] Win Naing Oo and [Ko] Myo Thant sadly illustrates the extreme brutality with which Myanmar’s military treats journalists, pursuing them, pressuring their relatives and holding them incommunicado,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk.
Ma Thuzar, a freelance reporter and former member of the Press Council has also been arrested. She was snatched by police as she left her home on the morning of September 1.
Her arrest was only confirmed by the police on September 5. Her family were unable to confirm her whereabouts, although there are rumors that she was taken to a military interrogation center in Yangon. The reason for her detention is unknown.
RSF has called on the international community to impose targeted sanctions against those responsible for the media crackdown.