Journalists, Locals Detained Following Police Crackdown Released

By Nyein Nyein 15 February 2021

Seven people—five journalists and two local residents—detained overnight following Myanmar security forces’ Sunday crackdown on protesters in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State in northern Myanmar, were released on Monday.

All were released at around 10 a.m. on Monday, according to sources close to the reporters.

Among the detainees were Mizzima News reporter Sai Latt Aung; Eternally Peace News Network (EPN) reporters Ko Wai Yan and Ko Yan Kaung; The 74 Media editor-in-chief Htoi Awng; and The 74 Media cameraman Naw Seng. All are based in Myitkyina.

Mizzima and The 74 Media confirmed the release of the journalists.

The sources in Myitkyina said military officers confiscated the journalists’ cameras but returned them upon the detainees’ release. Before being freed, the source said, the seven “were forced to sign a paper saying they won’t violate Article 144 [of the Penal Code],” under which the military government has imposed a curfew and banned gatherings of more than four people.

Since the military takeover of power from the democratically elected government on Feb. 1, the military has detained the country’s civilian leaders including State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint. The coup leader then formed the State Administrative Council, which has imposed restrictions on internet access, telecommunications and mass gatherings, implemented a curfew, and amended legislation and re-imposed draconian articles to restrict public privacy and security.

The 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew has been in effect in Myitkyina since Feb. 8.

Defying the military’s restrictions, Myitkyina residents continue to join their compatriots nationwide in daily mass anti-coup rallies, which began last week.

Meanwhile, public fears of a power blackout have mounted since soldiers were deployed at the electrical power transmission and system control (EPC) office in the city’s Man Khain quarter.

“We civilians are concerned about the soldiers’ presence at the electrical power office, as we are afraid that the power will be cut. We only want the police there in case they need to provide security. Therefore, people have started protesting in front of the EPC office,” said Myitkyina resident Lum Zawng.

Protesters demonstrated in front of the office on both evenings over the weekend, calling for the soldiers to leave the compound.

On Sunday at around 8 p.m., police and military trucks and soldiers arrived at the scene. An hour later they dispersed the protesters with water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets. According to locals, security forces also fired live rounds, injuring some people.

“We saw the tear gas cannisters and live rounds. They fired more than 30 shots, including two heavy bursts [of gunfire],” he said, adding several people were injured though he didn’t know the exact number.

According to a local Facebook user’s live feed, one protester was injured in the leg and another in the head.

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