Ma Thuzar

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Myanmar freelance journalist Ma Thuzar was arrested by police in the commercial capital of Yangon on September 1, 2021, on unclear accusations, according to a report by U.S. Congress-funded Voice of America report.

Ma Thuzar, who has contributed to the Myanmar Pressphoto Agency and the local Friday Times News Journal, was held incommunicado for five days before authorities confirmed her arrest, according to the Voice of America report. 

Myanmar Pressphoto Agency founder J Paing told CPJ by email that Ma Thuzar was held at the Shwe Pyi Thar interrogation center of Military Prison No.1 before being moved to the military’s Aung Thapyay interrogation center, both of which are in Yangon. 

Police confirmed her arrest on September 5 but did not give a reason for her detention, The Irrawaddy and Mizzima reported. As of late September, Ma Thuzar’s whereabouts were unknown, according to J Paing.

Local reports quoted the reporter’s husband, Ko Ye Ko, as saying that she went into hiding after soldiers and police raided her home in May while she was away. They arrested and detained the husband for five days before releasing him, these reports said. 

Ma Thuzar’s arrest came in the wake of the military’s February 1, 2021, democracy-suspending coup and subsequent protests. The military junta cracked down on Myanmar’s independent media, detaining dozens of journalists, according to those sources and CPJ research.

Before she went into hiding, Ma Thuzar reportedly filmed live videos of street protests against the military coup that were carried on Friday Times News Journal news outlet. News reports suggested those broadcasts contributed to the publication’s closure on April 16. CPJ’s review of the outlet’s Facebook page confirmed it stopped publication on that date.

The Ministry of Information did not reply to CPJ’s emailed request sent in late November 2021 for comment on Ma Thuzar’s legal status and the reason for her detention.