Bangkok, March 2, 2021 – Myanmar authorities must release all journalists arrested for covering anti-coup protests in the country, and drop any charges filed against them, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
At about 10:30 p.m. yesterday, police in the southern city of Myeik raided the home of Kaung Myat Hlaing, a reporter with the independent Democratic Voice of Burma news broadcaster, and arrested him, according to the outlet’s editor-in-chief, Aye Chan Naing, who communicated with CPJ by email, news reports, and a statement released by the news organization, which CPJ reviewed.
Police fired shots before raiding the reporter’s house, and officers threw a rock that hit Kaung Myat Hlaing in his head, injuring him, Aye Chan Naing said, adding that the journalist is detained for questioning at a military camp in Myeik.
Since February 28, authorities have detained at least three other journalists—Ye Yint Htun of the Thantawsint Reporter, Salai David of Chinland Post Media, and Lay Min Soe of the Monywa Gazette—according to social media posts and data shared with CPJ by the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners, an independent rights group, which did not possess information on where those journalists are being held.
CPJ could not immediately determine whether charges have been filed against any of the journalists.
“Myanmar’s military regime must immediately and unconditionally release reporter Kaung Myat Hlaing and all other members of the press being held for their work, and stop detaining journalists in retaliation for their news coverage,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “Journalists must be allowed to cover Myanmar’s anti-coup protests without fear of arbitrary arrest.”
Kaung Myat Hlaing, also known as Aung Kyaw, had reported daily for Democratic Voice of Burma on anti-coup demonstrations in Myeik, including a fatal military crackdown on demonstrators on February 28, the day before his arrest, Aye Chan Niang said.
The journalist live-streamed the police raid on his apartment until he was taken into custody.
Myanmar police have detained at least 22 journalists since the military took power in early February and anti-coup protests broke out across the country, according to the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners data and CPJ reporting.
CPJ emailed the Myanmar Ministry of Information for comment on the arrests, but did not immediately receive any reply.