Myanmar journalists detained in Thailand now “safe in third country”

Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) has released a statement saying that their journalist team of 5 are now “safe in a third country”.

Currently they “are recovering from their ordeal, but they will resume their work for DVB in the near future,” said the 7 June statement. Aye Chan Naing, Executive Director and Chief Editor of DVB, “is thankful and thrilled.”

“We like to thank everyone in Thailand and around the world that helped to make their safe passage possible and for campaigning for a positive outcome,” said Aye Chan Naing. DVB said they cannot reveal the name of the third country until it is safe to do so.

The journalist team consisting of 3 journalists and 2 crew were arrested on 9 May after entering Thailand and taken into detention at Sansai Police Station in Chiang Mai Province.

Because they were fleeing the brutality of Myanmar’s military junta, rights groups and journalist organizations called for their immediate release and stressed the principle of non-refoulement.

After the story spread worldwide, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Twitter on 11 May “Thai authorities concerned are coordinating to find possible humanitarian solution(s) to this case.”

On the same day, Chiang Mai Kwaeng Court delayed the trial for 6 days awaiting the appointment of lawyer and thus extending their detention at the police station. Their bail request was denied despite 50,000 baht and the academic position of Assistant Professor Darunee Paisanpanichkul from Chiang Mai University being offered as security.

Inside one day on 28 May, the court indicted and sentenced them to 7 months in jail suspended for one year and a 4,000 baht fine each for illegally entering Thailand and staying without permission.

During the judicial process, officials from the Myanmar Consulate in Chiang Mai and Thailand’s Office of the Prime Minister were also in court to observe the case.

According to the journalists’ lawyer, they were taken to Immigration in Bangkok after the sentence. Nine days later, DVB confirmed that they were safe in a third country. DVB said that they will be back at work soon. They also called for applications for the positions of multi-skilled journalist and copy editor.

DVB was founded in 1992 by Myanmar expatriates. Originally a radio station, it expanded its work into television in 2005. Known for reporting stories regarded as sensitive by the Myanmar authorities, they had headquarters in Oslo and Chiang Mai. After the military junta decided to open the country in 2012, they returned to work in Myanmar and registered as DVB Multimedia.

After the military coup in February 2021, their license was revoked along with 5 other television channels for their reporting on the Myanmar military. At least 2 DVB reporters were arrested in Myanmar in March including Kaung Myat Hlaing, who was attacked at night in his apartment, and Min Nyo, who was assaulted and sentenced to 3 years in jail.

Recently, the Thai Media for Democracy Alliance said that at least 73 Myanmar journalists had been detained, 42 had been prosecuted, and 22 faced arrest warrants and were on the run. According to several sources, 750-850 civilians have already been killed while the international community was debating if the killings reached the threshold of atrocities.

Source: 
https://prachatai.com/journal/2021/06/93426

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