Myanmar: Editor arrested over interview with ethnic armed group

Ko Nay Myo Lin, the editor-in-chief of Voice of Myanmar (VOM), was arrested on March 30 for breaching the Counter Terrorism Law after publishing an interview with the spokesperson of the Arakan Army (AA). The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is disappointed by the arrest and urges the authorities to drop the legal case against the journalist.

Voice of Myanmar (VOM) editor-in-chief Nay Myo Lin is escorted from his home by police to court in Mandalay on March 31, 2020. Credit: Zaw Zaw/AFP

On the evening of Monday, March 30, officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and local police arrested  Nay Myo Lin in his home in Mandalay, Myanmar’s second largest city. Nay Myo Lin then appeared in Thanmyathazi Township Court on Tuesday, March 31.

Nay Myo Lin, formerly from  BBC's Burmese-language news service, is facing life in prison following the publication of the interview conducted by VOM’s reporter Khine Linn San with Khine Thukha, spokesman for the AA, an ethnic armed group which is fighting Myanmar’s military in the Rakhine State.

On March 23, 2020, the government declared the AA and its political arm, the United League of Arakan,  as unlawful associations, accusing the groups of  disrupting the rule of law and the stability to the nation.

In the interview, AA’s Khine Thukha answered the question on group’s response to the new declaration and its impact on the peace process. He said AA will not accept the government’s ruling that the group is unlawful as AA is supported by the ethnic Rakhine people. The conflict between AA and military soldiers has continued since November 1988, causing the displacement of thousands of villagers in the Rakhine and Chin states.

Ma Zarni Mann, the wife of Nay Myo Lin, who is also working as a journalist in the independent local news outlet The Irrawaddy, said the officers also seized Nay Myo Lin’s laptop. She condemns the arrest and the use of repressive laws while Myanmar is facing the health crisis due to the spread of Covid-19.

IFJ said: “The arrest of the Nay Myo Lin shows that the Myanmar government has failed to take into account calls from various media freedom groups to protect journalists’ safety andfreedom of the press. IFJ urges the authorities to drop the case against Nay Myo Lin as the VOM was conducting a legitimate interview in response to a recently introduced ruling.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on [email protected]

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

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