Zaw Zaw

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Myanmar journalist Zaw Zaw is serving a three-year prison sentence for criminal incitement, a charge Myanmar’s military regime has used broadly to stifle independent news reporting since staging a democracy-suspending coup in 2021.

Zaw Zaw, who previously worked as a photographer at The Irrawaddy, was arrested on April 10, 2022, in the central city of Mandalay while with his family, according to the news reports. He was sent to Mandalay’s Obo Prison in May after being held at the Mandalay Palace interrogation center for more than a month, news reports said.

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 August 24, 2022, a court in Obo Prison convicted and sentenced Zaw Zaw to three years in prison under Article 505(a) of the penal code, a broad provision that criminalizes incitement and the dissemination of false news, according to news reports

His lawyer, Myo Min Zaw, told The Irrawaddy that police submitted the case against Zaw Zaw to the court two days before his trial and conviction. The lawyer said the charges accused Zaw Zaw of inciting the destabilization of the country using Facebook and by taking photos of anti-regime protests and the junta’s violent crackdowns.

Zaw Zaw was being held at Mandalay’s Myin Chan prison in late 2023, according to The Irrawaddy editor-in-chief Aung Zaw, who communicated with CPJ via email. (Aung Zaw received CPJ’s International Press Freedom Award in 2014.) He said Zaw Zaw suffered from bone pain in his back and shoulder and that his family sent him medicine every 15 days for his ailment.

Myanmar’s Ministry of Information did not reply to CPJ’s October 2023 emailed request for comment on Zaw Zaw’s conviction, health and treatment in prison.