At about 2 a.m. on July 30, 2022, military authorities arrested Aye Kyaw, a member of the Upper Myanmar Photography Association–a club of photographers–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. The photographer had documented protests against Myanmar’s military junta, those reports said.
At about noon on July 30, 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.
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.
News reports said that Aye Kyaw’s photographs of anti-junta demonstrations, which he posted on social media and were later published by local media outlets, had likely angered the military regime led by Senior General Min Aung Hlaing. The reports said his photographs of anti-military protests were also circulated by pro-democracy politicians.
The Sagaing Region, where Aye Kyaw photographed anti-coup protests and activities, has become a volatile new front in Myanmar’s civil war since the February 2021 coup, where newly formed anti-junta People’s Defense Forces have engaged in heavy fighting with military forces.
Hundreds of Myanmar civilians, including journalists, suspected of supporting the PDFs have been arrested and detained, according to reports compiled by the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners (Burma), an independent monitoring group, and CPJ reporting.
CPJ was not able to find contact information for Aung Kyaw’s family members, and calls to the Upper Myanmar Photography Association went unanswered.
CPJ emailed Myanmar’s Ministry of Information for comment, but did not immediately receive any response.