Kyaw Zeya (Kyaw Zay Yar)

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Kyaw Zeya, editor-in-chief of the local Kanbawza Tai News, is serving a three-year prison sentence for criminal incitement, a charge Myanmar’s military regime has used broadly to stifle independent news reporting since staging a democracy-suspending coup in 2021.

Three other Kanbawza Tai News journalists—Nang Nang Tai, Nann Win Yi, and Tin Aung Kyaw—were detained in March 2021, shortly after the February 1, 2021, coup. They were sentenced to three years in prison each for criminal incitement in December that year, according to CPJ reporting. They were all released in a 2022 amnesty. 

The military junta has cracked down on Myanmar’s independent media in the years following the coup, detaining and sentencing dozens of journalists.

Kyaw Zeya was arrested on December 25, 2022, at his family home in Gyobingauk town, Bago Region, according to news reports. He had been in hiding for over 20 months before his arrest, the reports said.

On January 9, 2023, a Taunggyi court in Shan State sentenced Kyaw Zeya to one year in prison for violating Article 505(a) of the penal code, a broad provision that criminalizes incitement and false news, according to a family member who requested anonymity for reasons of personal security and communicated with CPJ via an intermediary.

His sentence was extended by another two years under the same criminal charge on February 28, the family member said.

Kyaw Zeya was being held at Nyaungshwe township’s Taung Lay Lone Prison in southern Shan State in late October 2023, according to the family member. CPJ had earlier abided by the family’s request not to publicize Kyaw Zeya’s arrest while negotiations for his release were ongoing, but after these negotiations were unsuccessful, they said CPJ could include his case in the 2023 prison census. 

The Myanmar Ministry of Information did not reply to CPJ’s October 2023 emailed request for comment on Kyaw Zeya’s conviction, sentencing, health, and treatment in prison.