Conflicts & War

Myanmar journalist covering protests sentenced to 3 years in prison

Bangkok, May 13 (EFE).- A Myanmar journalist has been sentenced to three years in prison for his coverage of the protests against the coup, amid the harassment of the independent media by the military junta, his employer said Thursday.

Min Nyo, 51, who worked for the Democratic Voice of Myanmar, was arrested Mar. 3 in Bago, one of the provinces with the highest number of victims due to the violent repression by security forces.

The journalist was sentenced Wednesday, according to a statement from the outlet, which said Min Nyo lacked access to a lawyer during the criminal process and the police gave him a violent beating that has seriously injured him during his arrest.

The journalist was sentenced for violating an article of the Penal Code that punishes attempts to “hinder, disturb, damage the motivation, discipline, health and conduct of soldiers and public officials” and “cause hatred, disobedience or disloyalty towards the military and the government” with up to three years in prison.

It could be the first prison sentence for a journalist after the Feb. 1 coup, in which the military seized power from the democratic government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

“[Democratic Voice of Myanmar] calls on the authorities for the immediate release of Min Nyo and all the other journalists arrested and convicted in Myanmar,” the outlet said, asking for help from the international community.

Since the putsch, the junta has detained more than 40 journalists, issued arrest warrants against a score, withdrawn the licenses of dozens of media, and continues its persecution of those who report on demonstrations rejecting the military.

Among the journalists facing an arrest warrant is Mratt Kyaw Thu, an EFE correspondent in Yangon, who managed to leave the country and has requested asylum in Germany.

Most Myanmar journalists are now hiding in the country or have gone abroad while continuing to report daily on the repression of the security forces in Myanmar.

Thailand detained three Democratic Voice of Myanmar journalists Sunday for entering the country illegally after fleeing repression by the military junta and they face deportation, amid fears they could be imprisoned and tortured.

“The military authorities are ruthless and are determined to crush dissent by silencing those who seek to expose their crimes,” said Emerlynne Gil, director for Southeast Asia at Amnesty International.

At least 785 people have died in Myanmar due to the violent response of security forces against peaceful demonstrations, according to figures from the Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners.

The army justifies the coup on alleged electoral fraud in November’s elections, in which Suu Kyi’s party won a landslide victory, as it did in 2015, and which were considered legitimate by the international observers. EFE

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