Myanmar Army soldiers took freelance photographer Soe Naing into custody on December 10, 2021, after he took pictures of a protest in Yangon against the country’s military junta; he died in custody after allegedly being tortured, according to reports by The Associated Press, Reuters, and the independent local outlet The Irrawaddy.
Citing anonymous friends, colleagues, and family members of the photographer, those reports stated that the journalist was sent to a military interrogation center in Yangon’s Eastern Botahtaung Township following his arrest, and that his family was informed on December 14 that he died at the Yangon Defense Service General Hospital. He was cremated the same day, according to the AP.
The U.S. Congress-funded broadcaster Radio Free Asia reported that one of Soe Niang’s colleagues “suggested without elaborating that the photographer was killed during an interrogation by security forces.”
The New York Times, citing the local rights group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, wrote that Soe Naing was among at least 184 detainees who had been “tortured to death” by authorities.
Soe Naing—who was also a graphic designer—and an unnamed colleague who was also arrested on December 10 had covered Myanmar’s post-coup crisis for months, and their work depicting protests and security forces’ crackdowns was sometimes published by foreign news agencies, according to news reports. CPJ was unable to immediately identify that colleague or determine their current status.
Soe Naing’s Facebook account was disabled soon after his arrest, reports said.
CPJ emailed Myanmar’s Ministry of Information for comment on the reports of Soe Naing’s death, but did not immediately receive any response. CPJ was not able to find contact information for the military interrogation center mentioned in those news reports.