Myanmar journalist Aung Kyi Myint, also known as Nanda, is serving two years in Mandalay’s Oboe Prison on charges of abetting a criminal offense, assaulting military officials, and mischief caused by fire or an explosive substance. He was arrested in May 2019 and sentenced in April 2020.
A staff reporter with local broadcaster Channel Mandalay, Nanda was first arrested in Mandalay’s Aung Tha Pyay village on May 15, 2019, while covering a land-rights protest against a coal-fired cement factory, according to the privately owned Myanmar Times.
Police initially accused Nanda of being involved in the protest, according to Min Din, a Channel Mandalay executive who communicated with CPJ by email.
The reporter was among four people arrested during a police crackdown on the protest that saw security forces fire rubber bullets and tear gas at demonstrators, according to the Myanmar Times report. The report also noted that a building in the factory’s compound was set on fire during the melee.
Min Din told CPJ that Nanda was broadcasting live from the protest over the station’s Facebook page at the time of his arrest. He said Nanda was positioned between the protesters and police for filming purposes, and that he did not partake in the protest as authorities have alleged.
Nanda was charged in mid-June under Articles 114, 147, 332, 333, and 353 of Myanmar’s penal code, according to a Myanmar Times report. The charges deal with abetting a criminal offense, assaulting military officials, and mischief caused by fire or an explosive substance, Min Din told CPJ.
The journalist waged a hunger strike from September 6 to 9, 2019, to protest his detention, Min Din said. Nanda was transferred to Mandalay’s central prison hospital in September 2019 due to complications related to a heart condition, Min Din told CPJ.
On April 3, 2020, Nanda was sentenced to two years in prison on charges of abetting a criminal offense, assaulting military officials, and mischief caused by fire or an explosive substance, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, an independent rights group based in Yangon.
He is being held in Mandalay’s Oboe Prison as of late 2020, according to the association.
Myanmar’s Ministry of Home Affairs, which oversees the country’s prison system, did not respond to CPJ’s emailed request for comment on Nanda’s health and status in prison in late 2020.`