Bangkok, March 26, 2021 – Myanmar’s military authorities must immediately release all detained employees of Kanbawza Tai News, drop any charges against them, and stop jailing reporters for their news coverage, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
On the night of March 24, police raided the media outlet’s office and two of its employees’ homes in Taunggyi, the capital of Shan state, and detained editor-in-charge Nann Nann Tai, reporter Nann Win Yi, and publisher Tin Aung Kyaw, according to a Facebook post by the outlet and a report by The Irrawaddy.
Kanbawza Tai News editor-in-chief Zay Tai told The Irrawaddy that the outlet had not received any warning or legal action before the arrests, and he did not know where the staffers were being held.
CPJ emailed and called Kanbawza Tai News, an independent news outlet which posts stories on its website and social media, but did not receive any responses. The outlet’s news website was still posting updates as of today, and has recently covered strikes and demonstrations against the country’s military government, which took power in a February coup.
“The jailing of Kanbawza Tai News staffers Nann Nann Tai, Nann Win Yi, and Tin Aung Kyaw is the latest in a lengthening list of crimes against the press by the Myanmar junta,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “They must be immediately and unconditionally freed along with all other journalists wrongfully detained in Myanmar.”
Zay Tai told The Irrawaddy that authorities had previously tried to arrest him in mid-March in a separate house raid, but he escaped.
Also on March 24, Myanmar authorities released hundreds of political prisoners, most of whom had been detained in clampdowns on anti-military protests, including Associated Press journalist Thein Zaw and Polish freelance photographer Robert Bociaga, according to news reports.
At least 23 other journalists remain in detention, including the Kanbawza Tai News staffers, according to data shared with CPJ by the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners, an independent rights group.
Twelve of those journalists have been charged under the penal code, with at least 10 facing charges under Article 505(a), a broad criminal provision that penalizes the dissemination of information that could agitate or cause security forces or state officials to mutiny, that data shows.
CPJ emailed the Ministry of Information for comment, but did not receive an immediate reply.