Myanmar military court acquits journalist killers in secret decision

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the South East Asia Journalist Unions (SEAJU)demand a full investigation into the secret acquittal of the unnamed soldiers charged with murdering Burmese freelance journalist Aung Kyaw Naing in Myanmar last year.

According to reports this week, the Myanmar Military Court has acquitted two soldiers for the murder of Aung Kyaw Naing, known as Par Gyi, who was shot dead by the military on October 4, 2014 in the south eastern province of Mon State in suspicious circumstances.

The IFJ and SEAJU have strongly condemned the actions and later apparent cover-up by the military with news of the journalist’s killing taking weeks to surface.

Par Gyi’s body was exhumed from a shallow grave in early November. A post mortem report in November after his exhumation showed he had a cracked skull, broken bones and was hit by five bullets, including one shot from beneath his jaw. 

The SEAJU said: “The acquittal of killers by the military court deserves the strongest condemnation. SEAJU renews its calls for a robust, fair and transparent trial to reveal the full truth about Par Gyi’s death and to bring an end to the Burmese military’s culture of impunity.”

Initial reports suggest Par Gyi was arrested by the army on September 30 so that they could question him about whereabouts of DKBA (Democratic Karen Benevolent Army) units. He was said to be returning from a DKBA-controlled area when he was detained and later brutally interrogated. However, Burmese Army claimed Par Gyi was shot when he allegedly tried to seize a gun from a guard and ran away.

The SEAJU said: “The attempt to cover up his murder echoes similar methods that have been brought into play throughout the region, where critical media are often depicted as obstacles to progress or even ‘enemies of the state’.”

While reporting in Myanmar has become less restricted following transition from the military junta to a civilian government, issues surrounding military activities are still sensitive.

Par Gyi is reported to have regularly worked in Mon State on stories about ethnic issues along the Burma-Thai border. He is said to have been a former democracy activist who also once worked as a bodyguard for Aung San Suu Kyi.

The IFJ and SEAJU call for a full inquiry into the actions of the unnamed soldiers and their commanders in relation to the brutal murder of Par Gyi. 

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946 

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

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