Kaung Sett Lin (left) and Hmu Yadanar Khet Moh Moh Tun, journalists with the Myanmar Pressphoto Agency, were arrested after sustaining injuries at an anti-military protest on December 5. (Photos: Myanmar Pressphoto Agency)

Two Myanmar journalists injured, arrested while covering anti-military protest

Bangkok, December 7, 2021 – Myanmar authorities must immediately and unconditionally release journalists Kaung Sett Lin and Hmu Yadanar Khet Moh Moh Tun, who were arrested after sustaining injuries covering anti-military protests, and ensure that those responsible for injuring the journalists are brought to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Authorities arrested photojournalist Kaung Sett Lin and videographer Hmu Yadanar, both with the independent Myanmar Pressphoto Agency, on December 5 while they were covering a flash mob protest on Pan Pin Gyi Road in the commercial capital Yangon, according to local news reports and MPA chief editor JPaing, who goes by one name. Both were in a military hospital due to injuries sustained at the event, he said.

“Myanmar must immediately release journalists Kaung Sett Lin and Hmu Yadanar Khet Moh Moh Tun and bring the perpetrators of the violence that injured them to account,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “Myanmar’s junta must cease and desist from treating journalists like enemies of the state.”

Hmu Yadanar suffered injuries to her head after being hit by a truck allegedly driven by military forces into the back of the protest, The Irrawaddy reported. Security forces then opened fire on the protesters, killing at least five people in the melee, the same report said.

JPaing told CPJ by email that Hmu Yadanar has since undergone surgery for her head injuries at Military Hospital No. 2 in Yangon. Kaung Sett Lin was being held at the same hospital and recuperating from injuries, he said. CPJ was not able to immediately determine the nature of those injuries or how they were sustained. It was not immediately clear under what charges they were being held, JPaing said.

CPJ emailed Myanmar’s Ministry of Information for comment on Kaung Sett Lin and Hmu Yadanar’s arrests and The Irrawaddy’s account of violence by security forces, but did not receive an immediate response.

A CPJ special report in July documented the situation of journalists jailed in the wake of the military’s democracy-suspending February 1 coup, and found that at least 32 journalists were imprisoned due to their work as of July 1. Several journalists have been released and arrested since the mid-year census was conducted, according to CPJ reporting.

Many have been held on charges under Article 505(a) of the penal code, a broad and vaguely worded provision that penalizes incitement and the spreading of “false news” with maximum three-year prison penalties, CPJ research shows.

In April, CPJ called on coup maker Senior General Min Aung Hlaing to release all of the journalists jailed by his military regime.