Ma Htet Htet

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Myanmar journalist Ma Htet Htet is serving a five-year sentence for terrorism, a charge Myanmar’s military regime has used broadly to stifle independent news reporting since staging a democracy-suspending coup in 2021. 

Ma Htet Htet, an editor at the local Thingangyun Post, was arrested by police in the commercial capital of Yangon on September 11, 2021, according to news reports

The journalist’s arrest came in the wake of the military’s February 1, 2021, coup and subsequent protests. The military junta’s crackdown on Myanmar’s independent media, during which it has detained and sentenced dozens of journalists, continued through 2023.

On May 9, 2022, her lawyer, who requested anonymity due to fears of reprisal, was quoted in a Coconuts Yangon report saying the prosecutor in her case had failed to attend several scheduled hearings, resulting in delays in her trial. The lawyer said Ma Ma Htet’s family members had also been arrested and charged.

On December 16, 2022, a special court in Yangon’s Insein Prison sentenced Ma Htet Htet to five years in prison under Section 5 of the Explosives Substances Act, which penalizes the unlawful possession of explosive substances, according to news reports and a statement by the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners, a local rights group.

On the same day, Thingangyun Post founder Wai Lynn was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison on the same terrorism charge. 

Ma Htet Htet had also faced charges under Article 505(a) of the penal code, a broad provision that criminalizes incitement and false news, according to news reports

Thingangyun Post did not reply to CPJ’s request for comment sent by Facebook messenger. CPJ was unable to determine Ma Htet Htet’s health status in prison or whether the Article 505(a) charge was still pending in late 2023.

The Ministry of Information did not reply to CPJ’s October 2023 emailed request for comment on Ma Htet Htet’s conviction, legal status, health, and treatment in prison.