Myanmar: Civilians arrested after speaking with CNN

Myanmar’s military detained 11 people after they talked with CNN journalists in Myanmar on April 2. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemn the arrests of civilians and urge Myanmar’s military to allow the media to report without restrictions.

People cycle past a burning makeshift barricade, erected by protesters demonstrating against the military coup, in Yangon's Tamwe township, Myanmar. Credit: STR / AFP

CNN correspondent Clarisa Ward interviewed eleven individuals at markets in Yangon’s Insein and Mingaladon townships. Interviewees were then taken away by plainclothes officers directly after speaking to CNN. The news outlet subsequently confirmed at least eight of the eleven people were released on April 5.

In an interview with CNN, military spokesman Major General Zaw Min Tun confirmed the arrests of three people from the first market and eight others at the second, admitting they hadn’t broken the law.

CNN is the first international media organisation allowed to report from within Myanmar since the military takeover on February 1. The CNN team was assured it would be able to ‘report independently’ and be allowed ‘freedom of movement’, but the team has ‘minders’ from the military who monitor their every action.

A journalist in Myanmar, who will remain nameless to protect their safety, said “most of the cities including my township are suffering from unlawful and rampant shooting and killing by the Junta.” They also reported two journalists, one from Mawlamyaing and one from Mandalay, were injured after being struck by bullets on March 28.

The situation in Myanmar continues to deteriorate, and the military has begun broadcasting the names and faces of wanted journalists on national television. Journalists face dangerous conditions and harsh punishment if arrested under Section 505(a) of Myanmar’s penal code. The military have also begun broadcasting the names and faces of wanted journalists on national television.

The IFJ said: “The targeting of civilians for engaging with journalists is a clear attack on media freedom. While it is positive that international media are allowed access to Myanmar, journalists must be allowed to report without interference and without fear.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

Twitter: @ifjasiapacific, on Facebook: IFJAsiaPacific and Instagram