Myanmar media owner attacked by slingshot-wielding assailants

New York, July 17, 2015–The owner of a media group in Myanmar was attacked on Tuesday by slingshot-wielding assailants, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the attack and calls on authorities to prosecute the perpetrators.

Assailants used slingshots to shoot iron tire lug nuts at Than Htut Aung’s car while it was at a traffic intersection in Yangon city’s Bahan Township, according to news reports. Than Htut Aung was not injured in the attack, which reports said damaged the car’s passenger-side window where he was seated. The assailants escaped in a taxi, the reports said.

Police apprehended two suspects, who denied involvement in the attack, according to reports. An account by Eleven Daily said there were five people involved in the attack. Myint Htwe, commander of Yangon Division East District police station, said officials were investigating the motive and looking for possible accomplices, according to reports.

Than Htut Aung is the chief executive officer for Eleven Media Group, which includes newspaper, Internet, and TV outlets. He writes a regular op-ed column for the group’s Eleven Daily local-language newspaper, in which he often criticizes the military’s political role and official harassment of the press.

The paper’s editor, Wai Phyo, was quoted in local reports as saying the attack was possibly linked to people who “suffer from our investigative reporting and those who do not want to relinquish power” at this November’s general election.

On June 15, the Ministry of Information filed a complaint against the publisher of Eleven Daily, the newspaper affiliated with the group, and 16 editorial employees that claimed their coverage of a defamation suit the ministry brought against another Eleven Media Group publication last October prejudiced the proceedings. Both legal complaints are still pending.

“We call on authorities to punish those responsible for this attack and to better protect the press ahead of Myanmar’s upcoming democratic polls,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative.

Myanmar has a dismal record of press freedom, CPJ research shows. International groups including CPJ and Amnesty International have accused Myanmar’s government of using threats, harassment, and imprisonment to intimidate the media ahead of national elections expected in early November.

  • For data and analysis on Myanmar, visit CPJ’s Myanmar page.