Ko La Raw from Kachin Waves and Ma Chan Bu, from the 74 Media, were arrested by the military while reporting in the city of Myitkyina on March 29. Witnesses said the journalists were both beaten and detained by authorities while reporting on a crackdown on anti-regime protestors.
The arrests coincide with escalating violence across the region, with reports of more than 114 people killed across Myanmar on Saturday, March 27, including several children. Police also opened fire on a funeral crowd in the city of Bago for Thae Maung Maung, a 20-year-old killed March 27. Myanmar’s annual Armed Forces Day on March 27 was the bloodiest single day since the coup began on February 1. As the anti-regime protests entered their seventh week, the UN released a statement condemning the violence and calling on the military “to immediately stop killing the very people it has the duty to serve and protect”.
Attacks on journalists have been documented throughout Myanmar’s coup, with four staff members from the Shan State-based ethnic news outlet Kanbawza Tai Newsdetained on March 24. Three journalists and a security guard from the media outlet were taken by forces in a raid of a sub-office of the media outlet. These were the editor-in-charge of Kanbawza Tai News, Nann Nann Tai, 28; news reporter Nann Win Yi, 21; publisher, U Tin Aung Kyaw; and security guard Ko Sai Sithu. Ko Sai Sithu was released on the evening of March 25; the other three journalists – two females and one male - remain in detention. The houses of two other Kanvawza Tai News staff members were also raided on March 24.
The editor-in-chief of Kanbawza Tai news, Ko Zay Tai, was previously targeted by forces in a failed house raid in mid-March. He said the news outlet was being targeted by the military regime, despite no warnings or lawsuits issued against them. Tai told the Irrawaddy: “I believe that the raids are aimed at destroying the media”.
The IFJ said: “The violence and repression by the Myanmar military against journalists and human rights activists are a fundamental violation of press freedom. The military must ensure journalists are able to their job without harassment or detainment. The IFJ calls on the Myanmar military to stop all arrests of journalists now.”