Bangkok, July 14, 2021 – Myanmar authorities should immediately release journalist Aung Mya Than and drop any pending charges against him, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
At about 11 p.m. on July 10, military authorities arrested Aung Mya Than, a reporter with the local Ayeyarwady Times, at his home in the town of Maubin, in Ayeyarwady division, according to news reports and Ayeyarwady Times editor-in-chief Salai Thant Sin, who communicated with CPJ via email.
Authorities are holding Aung Mya Than at the Maubin City Police Station, Salai Thant Sin said.
“Myanmar authorities must release reporter Aung Mya Than, drop any pending charges against him, and allow him to do his job without fear of reprisal,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “Myanmar’s military junta must stop treating journalists as criminals and release all those behind bars.”
Aung Mya Than’s arrest followed a bombing by unidentified perpetrators in Maubin on July 10, which he covered for Ayeyarwady Times, Salai Thant Sin told CPJ.
Authorities previously arrested Aung Mya Than on May 25 and held him until June 30 on charges under Article 505(a) of the country’s penal code, a provision that criminalizes disseminating “false news” and causing “hatred, disobedience or disloyalty toward the military and government,” according to news reports and Salai Thant Sin.
Aung Mya Than was among several journalists released nationwide on June 30, Salai Thant Sin said.
CPJ could not immediately determine whether the previous 505(a) charges against Aung Mya Than had been dropped at the time of his release. Several other Ayeyarwady Times reporters are currently in hiding from arrest warrants, Salai Thant Sin told CPJ.
CPJ emailed the Ministry of Information for comment on Aung Mya Than’s rearrest, but did not immediately receive any reply.
Myanmar’s military regime currently holds dozens of journalists behind bars, according to preliminary data compiled by CPJ based on independent reporting, news reports, and research by the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners, a local rights group.
The majority have been detained during newsroom raids or while covering anti-coup street protests, and over half face charges under Article 505(a), according to that data.