Win Naing Oo

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Myanmar journalist Win Naing Oo, chief reporter with the local Channel Mandalay TV news station, is serving a five-year sentence for terrorism, a charge Myanmar’s military regime has used against the press to stifle independent news reporting since staging a democracy-suspending coup in 2021.

On April 5, 2022, A special court in Obo Prison, in the central city of Mandalay, convicted and sentenced Win Naing Oo to five years in prison under Section 52(a) of the Counter Terrorism Law, a provision that outlaws acts of organizing or participating in a terrorist group, knowingly concealing or harboring a terrorist group, or giving permission for a terrorist group to use a building or gather, according to a report by The Irrawaddy and data compiled by local rights group the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners.

He was initially charged under Article 505(a) of the penal code, a broad provision that criminalizes “any attempt to cause fear, spread false news or agitate directly or indirectly a criminal offense against a government employee” or that “causes their hatred, disobedience, or disloyalty toward the military and the government.”

The 505(a) charge was changed in mid-October to one of terrorism, according to a Myanmar Now report, citing his lawyer. A defense lawyer cited in The Irrawaddy report said Win Naing Oo has no plans to appeal his conviction, which alleged that he was involved with a local anti-military People’s Defense Force in Mandalay’s Sint Kaing Township.

Win Naing Oo was arrested with his wife on August 31, 2021, in Mandalay, according to news reports and a database maintained by AAPPB, which said he was held in pretrial detention at the city’s Sint Kaing police station. His wife was reported to have been released shortly after his arrest.  

Win Naing Oo’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.

A Democratic Voice of Burma report said Win Naing Oo has also been charged under Section 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law, a provision that criminalizes online defamation and allows for a three-year prison sentence, according to CPJ research. Channel Mandalay did not respond to CPJ’s requests for comment sent by Facebook and email. 

The Ministry of Information did not reply to CPJ’s emailed request sent in late 2022 for comment on Win Naing Oo’s conviction, sentencing and situation in detention.