Bangkok, December 18, 2023—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the recent arrest of two journalists with Myanmar news outlet Dawei Watch and calls on the country’s military regime to release them immediately and unconditionally.
The journalists, Aung San Oo and Myo Myint Oo, were arrested at their homes in the coastal town of Myeik around midnight December 11, and their family was told by the military that they were held over their reporting, according to a Dawei Watch statement, news reports and the independent publication’s chief editor—who communicated with CPJ via email and requested anonymity due to fear of reprisals from authorities.
Their laptops and phones were also seized, those sources added. The journalists were being held at the Myeik Police Station as of Monday, according to Dawei Watch’s chief editor. They have not yet been charged with any offense, the editor said, adding that many of the publication’s journalists have gone into hiding after their arrests.
“Myanmar’s military regime must release Dawei Watch journalists Aung San Oo and Myo Myint Oo, drop any pending charges against them, and stop intimidating journalists for their work,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “Myanmar must stop harassing and detaining journalists for merely doing their jobs of reporting the news.”
Myanmar’s military regime has singled out Dawei Watch’s reporters for harassment. In January 2022, authorities arrested and temporarily detained three Dawei Watch employees including two reporters, CPJ reported at the time.
In December 2022, Dawei Watch reporter Aung Lwin was sentenced to five years in prison under Article 52(a) of the Counter Terrorism Law, according to a Dawei Watch report. He is serving his sentence at Dawei Prison.
Myanmar’s Ministry of Information did not immediately respond to CPJ’s request for comment on Aung San and Myo Myint’s arrests.
Myanmar was the world’s third-worst jailer of journalists last year, with at least 42 journalists behind bars at the time of CPJ’s latest annual prison census on December 1, 2022. CPJ is due to publish the 2023 census in early 2024.