YANGON — The case of three journalists detained in northern Shan State was transferred from Hsipaw to Namhsan Police Station, according to both police authorities.
Lawi Weng, also known as U Thein Zaw, from The Irrawaddy, and U Aye Nai and Pyae Bone Aung from Democratic Voice of Burma were arrested on June 26 near Namhsan Township on their way back from covering a drug-burning ceremony held by ethnic armed group the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) to mark the United Nations’ International Day Against Drug Abuse.
The reporters, along with four other unidentified people, were handed over to Hsipaw police on June 28 and remanded to Hsipaw Prison, where they will remain despite the transfer of the case to Namhsan. The trio is being charged with violating Article 17(1) of the Unlawful Associations Act.
According to Hsipaw police official Myint Win, the case was transferred to Namhsan station on July 2 since the arrest occurred in the Namhsan region. Staff of Namhsan station confirmed to The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that the lawsuit would be submitted to Namhsan Township Court, about a three-hour drive from Hsipaw.
However, the district courthouse could assign it to a township court closer to Hsipaw Prison, according to Myint Win.
Family members of the three detained reporters were allowed a 45-minute prison visit on Monday—their first since the trio was arrested—and said their loved ones were in good health. The first court hearing will be on July 11, according to initial police reports.
International and local press members, civil society organizations and right groups have condemned the arrest of journalists under the colonial-era Unlawful Associations Act, stressing a worrying trend against media freedom in Myanmar.