Myanmar Junta Jails and Files Cases Against Journalists

By The Irrawaddy 11 October 2022

Myanmar junta’s media crackdown has continued with one journalist being sentenced to three years in jail for incitement while two charges were filed against an editor last week.

Detained political columnist U Sithu Aung Myint was sentenced to three years in prison with labor by a special court inside Insein Prison in Yangon on October 5 for alleged incitement under Article 505(a) of the Penal Code.

He was detained along with freelance BBC producer Ma Htet Htet Khine on August 15 last year in Yangon.

U Sithu Aung Myint faces three more charges including two charges under Article 505(a) and a sedition charge under Article 124(a) of the Penal Code.

Ma Htet Htet Khine has been given a six-year sentence under Article 505(a) and the Unlawful Association Act.

The regime has reportedly opened a case against U Khaing Myat Kyaw, the chief editor of the Narinjara News Agency based in Rakhine State’s capital, Sittwe, under Article 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law and Article 505(a) of the Penal Code.

The charge is related to a report about a fatal mine blast in Mrauk-U, Rakhine State, on September 30 which alleged that the mine was planted by the regime.

He said the report was based on research and residents’ statements and the charges were trumped-up.

The regime wants to silence media reports of human rights violations, said U Khaing Myat Kyaw. “It is routine to prosecute the media,” he said.

The regime blamed the Mrauk-U blast on the Arakan Army, which is fighting the regime.

“Despite the prosecution, we will continue to expose human rights violations and unlawful acts. Journalists are never scared by arrests, prosecutions and imprisonment,” he said.

Junta troops raided the old office of Narinjara in Sittwe on May 7. The news agency has since been forced to close its office with staff working while in hiding.

The regime has opened cases against editors and reporters at two other Rakhine-based media outlets, Development Media Group and Western News.

Myanmar has become the world’s second-biggest jailer of journalists since the 2021 coup.

More than 140 journalists have been detained since the coup. Over 60 remain behind bars and four journalists have died in custody.