Two Foreign Photographers Briefly Detained in Muse

By Zarni Mann 29 April 2015

Two foreign photographers were questioned by police in Muse, northern Shan State, after the vehicle they were traveling in was stopped by a local militia group on Tuesday evening, according to local police.

A police officer in Muse said the pair were traveling by car with an ethnic Palaung driver on the Namkham-Kutkai road when they were stopped by members of the pro-government Pansay militia near Kutkai. They were then brought to the Muse police station.

“The Pansay group handed them to us and said the two foreigners were in an insecure area. After questioning, we determined that the two foreigners were documenting the culture of the ethnic villages of the Lashio region and accidently went into the Pansay militia’s area,” said Mya Sein, station commander at Muse police station.

He declined to give details on the identity of the two Rangoon-based photographers, but it is believed one is American and the other Austrian.

In reply to a request for comment from The Irrawaddy, the US Embassy in Rangoon would only confirm that it was aware of the case and “providing consular assistance.”

Mya Sein said about 40 methamphetamine tablets and 22 bullets were found in the tool box of the car which was being driven by an ethnic Palaung man from Namkham.

“The two foreigners were released after questioning this evening at 3pm after we found out they came to the area with valid and official visas and had nothing [to do] with the seized materials,” Mya Sein said.

“The American can speak Burmese well and we realized that they apparently hitchhiked for that car to reach back to Lashio. They were also questioned by the immigration department,” he added.

The driver, Mine Nyi Aye, 26, is still being detained at Muse police station under suspicion of possessing drugs and weapons.