Police Investigate Blast at Journalist’s Home in Arakan State

By Moe Myint 15 March 2016

RANGOON — An Arakan State-based journalist claims to have been targeted for his media outlet’s coverage of controversial issues, holding a press conference in Rangoon on Monday to discuss an explosion last week at his home in Sittwe that he characterized as an attack.

The journalist, Min Min, general manager of Root Investigation Agency (RIA), was traveling to Buthidaung Township with his family at the time of the incident on Thursday, and no one was injured. He added that his home did not suffer any serious damage.

Min Min speculates that the alleged attack on his home, which doubles as an office, was due to stories that his organization has recently published, implicating officials in scandals, though he defends the stories as fair.

One such story accuses the leader of the Arakan Army, Tun Myat Naing, of leading the illicit narcotics trade in Arakan State.

“Journalists, particularly those in conflict zones in ethnic areas, can’t expect media freedom or for their lives to be secure,” RIA said in a statement on Monday, pointing to the recent incident as evidence.

The media outlet has also received threats on social media, with one supposedly offering a monetary reward for the killing of an RIA journalist.

Min Min told The Irrawaddy on Monday that the investigation is being led by police officer Aye Khin Maung of Sittwe Township. The officer, however, declined an interview request from The Irrawaddy, and the cause of the explosion is as yet undetermined.

Police officer Yan Naing Thet confirmed on Tuesday that the explosion occurred at about 11 pm on Thursday, but he declined to provide additional information.

The RIA was founded last year, covering a range of issues including armed conflict, education, health care, human rights and human trafficking.