Bangkok, May 15, 2020 — Myanmar authorities must conduct a swift, thorough, and impartial investigation into the assault of journalist Kyaw Linn and ensure that reporters can work in Rakhine state without fearing for their safety, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
On May 13 at about 7:45 p.m., in the Rakhine city of Sittwe, two people on a motorcycle fired a rock from a slingshot hitting Kyaw Linn, a contributing reporter with the local independent news websites Myanmar Now and Development Media Group, in the chest, according to local reports and the journalist, who communicated with CPJ via email.
The assailants did not identify themselves, but shouted from the motorcycle in Rakhine dialect that, “this is enough for death,” Kyaw Linn told CPJ. He said the rock did not break any bones, but that he went to Sittwe Hospital for treatment after the attack.
“Authorities should conduct a thorough investigation into the attack on journalist Kyaw Linn and determine if the assault was related to his journalism,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “Journalists must be able to report in conflict areas without fear of violent reprisal, and authorities should ensure reporters’ safety.”
Kyaw Linn told CPJ he has frequently reported on the armed conflict between Myanmar military forces and the Arakan Army insurgent group in Rakhine and Chin states, including reporting that has been critical of the Arakan Army’s tactics.
He said he usually works from the commercial capital of Yangon but recently returned to his family home in Sittwe due to government restrictions imposed to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.
CPJ called the Sittwe police station for comment, but no one answered.
At least two journalists have recently been charged under the Counter-Terrorism Law for interviewing Arakan Army representatives, as CPJ has documented.