Urgent action needed for media workers detained and missing in Burma

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is outraged at the continued detention of six journalists in Burma and is concerned for the safety of a photographer who has been missing since early October.

IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said she is very concerned that journalists have been targeted in the latest crackdown on anti-government protests in Burma. Despite the UN General Assembly’s condemnation of Burma’s military rulers, she fears more attacks on press freedom in the country.

“The IFJ calls on Burma’s government to stop its attacks on the media and to release all detained media personnel and protesters immediately and unconditionally,” Park said. 

According to Reporters without Borders, five journalists were detained before the protests; Monywa Aung-Shin, of Shar-maw-khung newspaper; freelance photographer and reporter Thaung Sein; Dhamah-Yate newspaper’s Ko Moe Htun; journalist Ne Min; and Win Tin, of Hanthawathi newspaper.

The photographer Win Saing is still detained since the monk-led demonstrations grew in intensity. Photographer Ko Thu Ya Soe, 30, who worked for the EPA news agency, has been missing since early October. He was last seen taking photos near the Sule pagoda in Rangoon.

A reporter for the Weekly Eleven Journal, Win Ko Ko Latt, who has been detained since September 27 and Nay Linn Aung, a reporter for 7-Days Journal, arrested on August 28 were both released recently.

In other developments, Burma’s junta is reported to have given Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burma, permission to visit the country to monitor human rights issues. Burma’s Foreign Minister, Nyan Win, has reportedly told the UN that Professor Pinheiro may visit the country before mid-November.

The Geneva-based Brazilian law professor, who reports for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), has not been allowed into Burma since 2003.

In a report to a special session of the UN on October 2, Professor Pinheiro condemned the junta’s brutal crackdown and media black-out during the protests, and stressed the necessity of free expression in promoting political transition in Burma.

The IFJ welcomes Burma’s decision to reverse its position on allowing Professor Pinheiro into the country.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0919

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 115 countries