Police vehicles are seen in Pathein, Myanmar, on December 20, 2019. A Pathein court recently sentenced journalist Ye Yint Tun to two years in prison. (Reuters/Ann Wang)

Myanmar Herald journalist Ye Yint Tun sentenced to 2 years in prison

Bangkok, March 28, 2022 – Myanmar authorities should immediately and unconditionally release journalist Ye Yint Tun and stop imprisoning members of the press for their work, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Monday.

On March 23, a special court in the city of Pathein sentenced Ye Yint Tun to two years in prison for allegedly violating Section 505(a) of the penal code, which criminalizes incitement and the dissemination of “false news,” and Section 505(b), which criminalizes publishing or circulating information that could cause fear or alarm, according to multiple news reports.

Ye Yint Tun, a reporter with the Myanmar Herald news website, was first arrested on February 28, 2021, while covering a protest in Pathein, and was held in pretrial detention until his sentencing, according to those reports. CPJ was not able to immediately determine whether he intended to appeal the sentence.

“Journalist Ye Yint Tun’s harsh sentencing and imprisonment for merely doing his job as a reporter speaks to the cruelty of Myanmar’s military regime,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “Myanmar’s junta should be releasing, not sentencing, the dozens of journalists it wrongfully holds behind bars.”

Ye Yint Tun’s sentencing was handed down in the same week that two other reporters, Hanthar Nyein of Kamayut Media and Than Htike Aung of Mizzima, were also sentenced to two years each in prison, as CPJ reported at the time.

Another Myanmar Herald reporter, Wine Maw, is being held in pretrial detention at Yangon’s Insein Prison.

CPJ emailed the Myanmar Herald and messaged the outlet on Facebook for any information on Ye Yint Tun’s case, but did not receive any response.

The Myanmar Ministry of Information did not immediately reply to CPJ’s emailed request for comment.

Myanmar is the world’s second-worst jailer of journalists, trailing only China, with at least 26 behind bars at the time of CPJ’s most recent prison census.

Ye Yint Tun was not included in that census, as CPJ was unaware of his case at the time.