Myanmar Junta Arrests Two People in Rakhine for ‘Links with Outlawed Media’ 

By The Irrawaddy 24 May 2023

The military regime has detained two people in cyclone-hit Rakhine State over suspected links with “outlawed” news outlets.

The two were among five people – including local charity leader Wai Hun Aung, his daughter, and a staff member – detained on Tuesday evening while traveling from Rakhine’s capital Sittwe to Ponnagyun Township with relief supplies for storm-affected communities.

Junta spokesman Major-General Zaw Min Tun told BBC Burmese Service on Wednesday that Wai Hun Aung, his daughter and his staff member would be released after questioning.

“But the other two who came from Yangon were found to have connections with illegal news outlets and will be detained for interrogation,” he told the BBC.

The junta has not revealed the identities of the two detainees or the news organizations they allegedly have links with.

Following the 2021 coup, the military regime has banned at least six media outlets – The Irrawaddy, 7Day News, Myanmar Now, Mizzima, DVB, and Khit Thit Media – by revoking their publishing licenses. All except 7Day News continue to operate and report on Myanmar, mostly from exile.

Myanmar ranks 173 out of 180 countries in the 2023 Press Freedom Index. The regime is currently holding 69 journalists and one media worker in detention, according to Reporters Without Borders.

Cyclone Mocha wreaked havoc in northern Rakhine State when it made landfall on May 14. More than one week on, official relief operations have done little to help affected areas, while international aid agencies are still waiting for the regime’s approval to deliver aid.