Thai Court Hands Jail Sentences to Myanmar Journalists Fleeing Junta

By The Irrawaddy 2 June 2021

A Thai court has sentenced three Myanmar journalists for the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) and their two associates to seven months imprisonment and a 4,000 baht fine each for entering Thailand illegally.

They were arrested in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand in early May, after fleeing Myanmar following the junta’s order to close DVB’s news-gathering operations in the country.

Press freedom advocacy groups and the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand had urged the Thai authorities not to deport them back to Myanmar.

Thai media reported that a public prosecutor filed a case against them at a Chiang Mai court and on the same day the court approved the indictment and sentenced them.

In March, the military regime revoked DVB’s license to operate in Myanmar in response to their coverage of the junta’s atrocities against anti-coup protesters. Four other media organizations also lost their licenses, making reporting for them an illegal act.

The lawyers for the journalists and their associates said that they had confessed and been taken into custody by Thai immigration in Bangkok. Their lawyers are negotiating for them to be released on bail.

Over 80 journalists are among the more than 5,500 people arrested by security forces in Myanmar since the junta’s Feb. 1 coup. The vast majority remain in detention amid widespread reports of torture and extrajudicial killings.

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