The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate, the Myanmar Journalists Association (MJA) in strongly criticizing the arrest and detention of three journalists by the army in Myanmar’s northeastern Shan state on Monday, June 26, 2017. The IFJ and MJA call for the immediate release of the journalists.
On Monday, three journalists, Aye Naing and Pyae Phone from the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) and Thein Zaw from the Irrawaddy, were arrested by the Myanmar Army after they covered a drug-burning event organized by the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) in Shan state. According to reports, the event was held as part of the U.N.’s International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. The TNLA is deemed as an ‘unlawful association’ by the Yangon authorities. The military plans to charge the journalists, and four other men, under the 1908 Unlawful Association Act. According to Zaw Htay, a spokesperson for the president’s office, the journalists will be transferred to police custody today. If found guilty, the journalists could face up to three years in jail.
This is the latest incident of journalists been arrested in Myanmar in recent weeks. Earlier this month, three Magwe-based journalists and two Yangon-based journalists were charged with defamation.
The media crackdown in Myanmar has received widespread criticism, both locally and internationally. In early June, over 100 Myanmar journalists gathered in Yangon to call on the government to abolish the law and withdrawn all cases against journalists under Article 66(d).
The MJA said: ''Military must be abide by the existing News Media Law. Chapter 3 of the law outlines the rights of journalists, which said they have the right to access information in conflict zones. Journalists are also entitled to security from local authorities as they undertake their job. These three journalists have reported on this story lawfully, so we call on the military to immediately release the journalists.”
The IFJ said: “We are increasingly concerned by the state of media freedom in Myanmar. In recent weeks and months, the media environment has continued to deteriorate, which is raising serious questions about the safety and security of the local media, as well as the ability to access information freely. We stand with MJA and the local media in demanding the immediate release of Naing, Phone and Zaw. We also call on the government to take immediate steps to guarantee media freedom in Myanmar.”
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