Bangkok, May 11 (EFE).- Three Myanmar journalists from a news outlet banned by the military junta have been arrested in neighboring Thailand, to which they had fled following the army crackdown, and are facing deportation for alleged illegal entry.
The journalists from broadcaster DVB (Democratic Voice of Burma) were arrested on Sunday along with two Myanmar activists during a raid in the northern city of Chiang Mai.
A Chiang Mai police official told EFE that the detainees had allegedly entered Thailand illegally through the porous border between both countries and that they are expected to be brought before a court on Tuesday.
DVB’s chief editor Aye Chan Naing called on the Thai authorities not to deport the detained journalists to Myanmar, saying that “their life will be in serious danger if they were to return.”
He also urged the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees in Bangkok to intervene to protect the journalists.
“They have been covering the demonstrations in Burma until March 8 – the day the military authority revoked DVB’s TV license and banned DVB from doing any kind of media work,” the chief editor said in a statement.
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT) on Tuesday expressed “serious concern” over the arrests and called for the “release” of the detainees.
“These five individuals would face certain arrest and persecution, if not worse, for their work and association with the DVB, and under no circumstances should they be deported back to Myanmar,” it said.
It also urged Thai authorities to grant them permission to remain in the country temporarily.
“The world is watching what the Thai authorities do in this important case for press freedom in Myanmar and the region, and for the protection of those fleeing the junta’s brutal crackdown on independent media and civil society,” the FCCT added in a statement.
Soon after, Thailand’s foreign affairs ministry spokesperson Tanee Sangrat tweeted that Thai authorities “are coordinating to find humanitarian solution(s) to the recent case of journalists from Myanmar.”
The Myanmar military junta, which seized power on Feb. 1, has detained at least 40 journalists, issued arrest warrants for around 20, revoked the licenses of dozens of media outlets and continues to persecute those who report on the anti-coup protests taking place in the country.
Most Myanmar journalists are now living in hiding as they continue to report daily on the repression of the security forces in the country.
At least 781 people have been killed while 3,843 people are detained by the military, including ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, according to figures from the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners monitoring group.
The military, headed by General Min Aung Hlaing, has justified the coup alleging fraud in elections held in November, in which Suu Kyi’s party repeated its resounding victory of 2015, with international observers giving a clean chit to the polls. EFE