Three journalists released, three still held in detention

New York, October 10, 2007 — The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the continued detention of at least three Burmese journalists and expresses strong concern about recent news reports that government authorities have consulted media images to identify and detain people who participated in recent street protests.
According to CPJ sources, Win Ko Ko Lat of Rangoon-based journal Weekly Eleven, radio producer Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi and photojournalist Win Saing are all currently being held by government authorities. It was unclear if any of the three journalists have been charged with any particular crimes related to their reporting.

Burmese authorities have in recent days released three journalists that had been held for several days in government custody, namely: Kyaw Ze Yar Tun from Burma-based The Voice journal, Nay Lin Aung from the Seven Day News journal, also based in Burma, and Min Zin from Tokyo Shimbun.

“The brutal repression of the Burmese junta has been laid bare to the world,” said Joel Simon, CPJ’s executive director. “The atrocious treatment of the press—from the killing of Japanese cameraman Kenji Nagai to these detentions—reinforces Burma’s reputation as one of the world’s most repressive and closed societies.”

The authorities have detained more than 2,000 people during a severe crackdown on recent anti-government protests. During the violence, Nagai, a journalist for Japan’s Fuji News Network was shot at close range by a Burmese soldier. Also, exile groups have reported that Burmese authorities have used images captured on Web sites, television broadcasts, and other media to identify and arrest particular protesters.
On Tuesday, the authorities restored sporadic public access to the Internet after completely shutting down the country’s main Internet service provider on September 28. The move was in response to local journalists and bloggers who had sent news, images, and video clips from the protests and the government’s violent response to foreign news agencies.

Even without access to the main ISP, people managed to get news out of the country by using used proxy servers. CPJ could not confirm whether the authorities had moved to shut down the various proxy sites previously accessible in Burma with the recent restoration of Internet access.