by Thakuria Navajyoti
Geneva/Guwahati: As the imprisonment of scribes and other democratic activists under arbitrary laws becomes a new normal in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), the Switzerland-based media rights body Press Emblem Campaign (https://pressemblem.ch/) urges the military regime in NayPieTaw to release all media workers unreservedly.
The military junta led by General Min Aung Hlaing is presently trying its best to control the public outrages since the south-east Asian nation faced the coup on 1 February throwing the elected government virtually led by Nobel laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi out of legitimate power. The civil disobedient movement, called by NLD chief Suu Kyi, has already lost over 840 demonstrators to the brutalities of security personnel.
At least 85 journalists were arrested in the last four months where over 50 scribes are still behind bars as they faced a newly revised law on spreading wrong information. Lately, two reporters namely Ko Aung Kyaw (associated with Democratic Voice of Burma) and Ko Zaw Zaw (working for Mizzima media group) were imprisoned by a military court for two years because of their coverages of public unrests.
The military generals targeted the news industries by cancelling their licences, slowing down the internet services and also physically assaulting the media workers on different occasions. Even foreign journalists too are not spared as Danny Fenster, who edits Frontier Myanmar magazine, was picked up by the security agencies recently while he was about to board a flight to his home in the USA.
Mizzima chief editor Soe Myint informed PEC south & southeast Asia representative Nava Thakuria that Mr. Zaw became the sixth Mizzima staff to be detained by the militaries. Five of Mizzima’s members including its co-founder Thin Thin Aung are currently in jail facing three years of imprisonment. They are sentenced under section 505(a) of the penal code, which makes it a crime to publish any alleged rumor or misinformation with intent to cause alarm among the public or incite them to commit a crime against the government.
“We always believe and pursue that journalism can not be a crime. The media fraternity in Myanmar must get the freedom to work fearless,” asserted PEC general secretary Blaise Lempen, adding that three more journalists engaged with DVB were sentenced to seven months of imprisonment by a Thai court as they escaped from Myanmar to enter Thailand recently. Lempen also requested the Thai government not to extradite them to Myanmar hurriedly and release the scribes.