Bangkok, August 8, 2022 – Myanmar authorities must immediately disclose the status of photojournalist Aye Kyaw amid reports that he died in detention, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Monday.
At about 2 a.m. on July 30, military authorities arrested Aye Kyaw, a member of the Upper Myanmar Photography Association who had photographed anti-junta protests, at his home in the city of Sagaing, according to reports by the U.S. Congress-funded broadcaster Radio Free Asia and the local outlet Yangon Khit Thit Media.
At about noon that day, a local official told Aung Kyaw’s family that he had died in custody and his body was being held at the Sagaing City Hospital, according to RFA. That report quoted a member of the Ohbo Health and Social Assistance Association, a burial service in Sagaing, as saying his group took Aye Kyaw’s body to a religious hall, and that the journalist’s family buried him on July 31.
An anonymous source quoted by RFA said they saw dark bruises on Aye Kyaw’s ribs and back.
“Myanmar authorities must immediately account for the whereabouts of photojournalist Aung Kyaw, and come clean about whether he died in military custody,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “If he died while in junta detention, then those responsible must be identified and brought to justice.”
CPJ emailed Myanmar’s Ministry of Information for comment, but did not immediately receive any response.
Yangon Khit Thit Media reported that authorities ordered the journalist’s family not to post about his burial on Facebook. Citing one of his family members, RFA reported that authorities had arrived at the journalist’s home on July 30 to search for weapons.
CPJ was not able to find contact information for Aung Kyaw’s family members, and calls to the Upper Myanmar Photography Association went unanswered.
Aung Kyaw is at least the fourth journalist to be killed since the military seized power in a coup on February 1, 2021, according to CPJ reporting. According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma), an independent rights monitoring group, at least 2,167 prodemocracy activists and civilians have been killed by the junta since the coup.