Reporters Without Borders and Committee to Protect Journalists expressed concerns over the threats journalists met from the authorities amidst the soaring crackdown in Myanmar. They demand the Myanmar government to release them unconditionally and to drop the charges against them.
On 2 March, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) published a report about the media situation in Myanmar, expressing dismay by the intensification of the ruling junta’s “crackdown on journalists”.
According to the report, at least 28 journalists have been arrested during the past month of pro-democracy street protests. As the junta suddenly began deploying much wider use of deadly force, the state responseห to the media has changed in a similar way. Some detained journalists were also injured from the police beatings.
According to the information obtained by RSF, which has not been confirmed by the authorities, the ten journalists currently being detained are to be charged under article 505 (a) of the penal code with spreading false information, which carries a possible two-year jail sentence. Those close to Ye Myo Khant, one of the photographers arrested on 27 February, said they shared this fear.
On 26 February, before this wave of arrests, RSF posted a video of Yuki Kitazumi, a Japanese reporter and documentary filmmaker, being arrested in Yangon. He was released the same day. Wai Yan, a Chinese photo-journalist working for the Xinhua news agency, was also briefly arrested on 26 February.
Two Monywa-based reporters, Tin Mar Swe of MCN TV News and Khin May San of The Voice magazine, were quickly released after being arrested on 25 February but have been charged under article 505 (a) of the penal code.
“We call on Myanmar’s government to order the immediate and unconditional release of all the journalists currently detained, and to drop the charges against them,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk.
“It is absolutely crucial that reporters should be able to cover this dramatic moment in Myanmar’s history. The generals who took power must realize that the world is looking at them and that history will judge them.”
Myanmar is ranked 139th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2020 World Press Freedom Index.
On 2 March, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) demanded the Myanmar authorities to release all journalists arrested for covering anti-coup protests in the country, and drop any charges filed against them.
At about 10:30 p.m. on 1 March, police in the southern city of Myeik raided the home of Kaung Myat Hlaing, a reporter with the independent Democratic Voice of Burma news broadcaster, and arrested him, according to the outlet’s editor-in-chief, Aye Chan Naing, who communicated with CPJ by email, news reports, and a statement released by the news organization, which CPJ reviewed.
Police fired shots before raiding the reporter’s house, and officers threw a rock that hit Kaung Myat Hlaing in his head, injuring him, Aye Chan Naing said, adding that the journalist is detained for questioning at a military camp in Myeik.
The journalist live-streamed the police raid on his apartment until he was taken into custody.
“Myanmar’s military regime must immediately and unconditionally release reporter Kaung Myat Hlaing and all other members of the press being held for their work, and stop detaining journalists in retaliation for their news coverage,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative.
“Journalists must be allowed to cover Myanmar’s anti-coup protests without fear of arbitrary arrest.”