YANGON— With the arrest of three journalists by the Myanmar Army on charges of contacting an “unlawful association” last week, The Irrawaddy and the Democratic Voice of Burma joined a number of local media outlets being threatened in court by the country’s powerful institutions, including the military. Myanmar’s stringent media censorship laws, in place since 1962’s military coup, were lifted under former President U Thein Sein in 2012 but broad draconian laws used to throttle the media remain. Colonial-era legislation such as the State Secrets Act and the Unlawful Associations Act continue to be used as weapons of press oppression.
In 2014 freelance journalist Ko Par Gyi (also known as Aung Kyaw Naing) was shot dead in military custody. Controversial Article 66(d) of the 2013 Telecommunications Law is a newer law used to silence media on defamation charges concerning online content; there have been 65 cases brought forward since Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) formed a government in 2016 April. In fact, reporters and editors from five media organizations in Myanmar are now facing trial. Among them, three were cases filed by the military.
Here, The Irrawaddy has outlined some of significant cases brought against publications through use of the country’s restrictive laws.