Soe Yarzar Tun

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Myanmar freelance journalist Soe Yarzar Tun is serving a four-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.

On March 10, 2022, Soe Yarzar Tun was arrested in Bago City, just days after he escaped arrest by around 50 soldiers who raided a Buddhist monastery where he was staying, news reports said, quoting his lawyer and his family.

He was held at the Phayar Lay Interrogation Center in Yangon’s Hlegu Township for four days before being transferred to the township’s police station, where he was held for 28 days. 

The journalist’s arrest came in the wake of the military’s February 1, 2021, coup and subsequent protests. Since then, the military junta has engaged in an ongoing crackdown on Myanmar’s independent media, detaining and sentencing dozens of journalists.

On either December 16 or 17, 2022, Soe Yarzar Tun was sentenced to four years in prison with hard labor under Section 52(a) of the Counter Terrorism Law, according to a report by The Irrawaddy and a statement by local rights group the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners (AAPP). He was being held in Yangon’s Insein Prison as of late 2023, according to a database compiled by the AAPP. 

Soe Yarzar Tun was arrested previously on February 28, 2021, while reporting on an anti-coup protest in Yangon, according to a database compiled by the AAPP. 

Then, he was held for over four months on accusations under Section 505(a) of the penal code, a broad provision that criminalizes incitement and the dissemination of false news, according to a database compiled by the Detained Journalists Information Myanmar (DJIM) private Facebook group, which CPJ reviewed. 

He was released without charge in an amnesty of prisoners without charge on June 30, 2021, according to news reports and DJIM’s data. 

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