Documentary filmmaker Shin Daewe speaks during an interview in 2016.
Documentary filmmaker Shin Daewe speaks during an interview in 2016. She was arrested in October 2023 and given a life sentence for financing terrorism by a secret military tribunal, without legal representation. (Screenshot: DVB TV News/YouTube)

Myanmar jails filmmaker Shin Daewe for life for buying a drone

Award-winning Myanmar documentary filmmaker Shin Daewe is serving a life sentence on charges of illegal possession of an unregistered drone, a criminal offense under the country’s Anti-Terrorism Law, according to news reports.

Shin Daewe was arrested on October 15, 2023, while picking up a video drone she had ordered online to use for filming a documentary, according to a U.S. Congress-funded Voice of America (VOA) report quoting her husband Ko Oo.

Police interrogated the journalist for nearly two weeks before charging her and transferring her to Yangon’s Insein Prison, Ko Oo told VOA. Shin Daewe was tried by a secret military tribunal and was denied legal representation during the proceedings, the VOA report said.

On January 10, 2024, Shin Daewe was convicted under Section 50(j) of the Anti-Terrorism Law, a provision that allows for life sentences for financing terrorist activities, news reports said.  

Ko Oo told the U.S. Congress-funded Radio Free Asia (RFA) that Shin Daewe appeared to have been beaten during police interrogations, based on reports he received saying that she had stitches on her head and welts on her arms.  

Shin Daewe, a former reporter with the local media group Democratic Voice of Burma and a regular freelance contributor to RFA, is known for her documentary coverage of environmental issues and the toll that armed conflict has taken on the country’s civilians, according to news reports.

Her “Ayeyarwady Riverbank Erosion” video report for RFA, which examines the human impact of climate change in Myanmar, won a Gracie Award in March.

Myanmar was the world’s second-worst jailer of journalists in CPJ’s latest annual prison census, with 43 behind bars on December 1, 2023.