2 Journalists Freed After Letpadan Arrest

By Nobel Zaw 13 March 2015

RANGOON — Two journalists detained in Pegu Division’s Tharyarwaddy Prison were released from custody on Friday, three days after they were detained while trying to report on student demonstrations that were dispersed in a violent crackdown.

Myanmar Post reporter Nyan Lin Tun and Phyo Aung Myint of the Reporter Journal said they have been acquitted of all charges and were treated fairly while in detention, even receiving medical care for injuries sustained during their arrest.

“Today at nearly 2pm, they took me from my cell but didn’t tell me whether I was being released or not,” said Nyan Lin Tun. “They released me at about 3pm.”

He said that while the prison guards treated him well, the same could not be said for the police that detained him on Tuesday. He said he showed officers his press identification card during the incident, which ended in a total of 127 arrests, but alleged that they were ordered to arrest journalists along with demonstrators.

Nyan Lin Tun said that Deputy Police Chief Nanda Win grabbed him by the wrist and shouted out instructions to arrest reporters, calling them “instigators.” Nyan Lin Tun also said that he was hit with bamboo and a police baton, as well as being hit and kicked on the head and other parts of his body.

“I collapsed without my bearings when the police kick me hard in the right side of my ribs,” he said.

Phyo Aung Myint said that he was spared a similar beating by two police officers preventing others from beating him.

“There were two policemen covering me so the others couldn’t hit me, and they told the others that I am a journalist,” he said. Phyo Aung Myint was then moved to a small holding room, where six policewomen guarded him and other detainees from “angry, baton-wielding police.”

A total of 127 people were arrested during Tuesday’s violent crackdown, and many were injured by police in what witnesses described as a chaotic scene of extreme aggression and ezxcessive force. About 60 people were charged on Wednesday for various offenses including incitement, harming a public servant and rioting.

Seventeen of those detained were conditionally released on Thursday. Eleven others were released on Friday, including the two journalists.