3 March 2021 –
The Asian American Journalists Association’s Asia Chapter (AAJA-Asia) calls on Myanmar authorities to release all journalists detained for reporting on anti-coup demonstrations and to drop all charges against them immediately.
At least 22 journalists have been arrested since the military seized power in early February, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Many of them were forcibly detained and charged arbitrarily.
According to CPJ and other media and press freedom organizations on the ground, Thein Zaw, (reporter, AP); Kay Zon Nway (reporter, Myanmar Now); Ye Myo Khant (photojournalist, MPA); Aung Ye (reporter, 7 Days News) and Hein Pyae Zaw (reporter, Zee Kwat Media) were arrested in Yangon on 27 Feb and sent to Insein Prison where they are currently detained. They have been charged with violating a public order law that calls for up to three years imprisonment.
In subsequent days, between 28 Feb and 1 March, freelance reporter Shin Moe Myint was severely beaten by security forces and sent to Insein Prison while Ye Yint Tun (reporter, ThanTaw Sint Journal) in Pathein; Kyaw Nay Min (Chief Editor, Chun Journal) in Yangon; Lin Tun (reporter, YamaNya Taing) in Mawlamyaing and Salai David (reporter, Chinland Post) were arrested and currently remain in detention.
Dozens of news outlets, both local and international, have also been shut down, while access to social media and other pages has been severely restricted.
AAJA-Asia also condemns in the strongest terms the violent ways by which security forces disperse civilian protesters—including the use of tear gas and live ammunition, which have killed at least 18 protesters to date. According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, at least 1,300 other civilians have either been detained or whose whereabouts remain unknown.
AAJA-Asia stands in full support of Burmese journalists, and urges all Myanmar authorities to uphold press freedom and allow the media to report on the news without fear of reprisal.
We call for an immediate end to the violence, censorship and persecution. Myanmar authorities must restore news broadcasts and ensure the safety and security of all journalists who are serving a crucial role at this critical time in the country’s history.
– The AAJA-Asia Board of Directors
The Asia chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) represents members across the Asia-Pacific region. It is a diverse, multi-ethnic community of local and international journalists and media professionals committed to supporting a vibrant press in the Asia-Pacific region. We are committed to advancing diversity and inclusion in media organizations, providing training opportunities to members, supporting students interested in journalism and advocating for fair media access.
AAJA is a nonprofit educational and professional organization with more than 1,500 members across the U.S. and Asia.