A Myanmar military regime court in the country’s capital Naypyitaw has charged a journalist with incitement after detaining him for nearly a year, continuing the junta’s relentless crackdown on local independent media.
Mizzima news editor Than Htaik Aung was charged under Article 505 (A) of the Penal Code on Wednesday by the Zabuthiri Township Court.
He was arrested on March 19, 2021 along with a local BBC reporter in the capital while covering the trial of a senior leader of the ousted National League for Democracy. The BBC journalist was released three days later.
Than Htaik Aung denied the charges on Wednesday, pleading not guilty in court. The judge scheduled final arguments in the case for March 17.
U Sein Win, managing editor of Mizzima, told The Irrawaddy that Than Htike Aung was simply doing his duty as a journalist and didn’t break any law.
“The top leaders of the military are abusing their power. It is an unfair action,” he said.
Since the coup, the regime has shut down at least six independent media organizations including Mizzima and arrested many journalists, making Myanmar the world’s second-biggest jailer of journalists after China since the takeover on Feb. 1 last year.
There are currently 46 journalists behind bars in Myanmar. Three have been killed by the junta.
The regime’s crackdown on local media has made it impossible for many journalists to work, forcing them to flee the country or go into hiding. The junta has increased its crackdown on media workers this year, including seizing a number of journalists’ homes.
Currently, only a few reporters working for the BBC, RFA and VOA remain inside the country, though some media organizations less critical of the regime are still operating.
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