Bangkok, February 10, 2021 – Myanmar authorities must ensure journalists can safely cover events of public interest, and should refrain from targeting members of the press at protests, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Yesterday, in the capital city of Naypyidaw, police fired rubber bullets at demonstrators, hitting Than Htike Aung, a reporter with the local Mizzima English-language news website, on the back, according to a report by the Myanmar Now news website and a Mizzima editor who communicated with CPJ via email. Security forces fired both rubber bullets and live rounds at protesters in Naypyidaw, critically injuring at least two demonstrators, according to Myanmar Now.
“Myanmar authorities must protect journalists covering anti-coup protests. Shooting members of the press who are merely doing their jobs reporting the news is a crime,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “Those responsible for firing the shots that hit Than Htike Aung should be identified and held to account.”
The Mizzima editor, who asked to speak on behalf of the outlet as a whole, told CPJ that Than Htike Aung did not sustain serious injuries from the bullet and was back at work today.
Myanmar’s military has sporadically shut down internet and mobile telecommunication services, blocked local and foreign TV news broadcasters, and ordered social media restrictions since staging a February 1 coup and imposing a year of emergency rule, as CPJ has documented; restrictions on social media and television broadcasts remain in effect as of today.
On February 8, authorities imposed a ban on gatherings of more than five people and curfews from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. in Yangon and Mandalay, the country’s two biggest cities, The Associated Press reported, noting that protesters have defied the ban and continued mass demonstrations against the coup.