Another journalist given a long jail sentence in Myanmar
Sithu Aung Myint a reporter and commentator for both local and international media, has just been sentenced to three years in prison in Myanmar after 14 months in pre-trial detention. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for his unconditional release and for tough international sanctions to prevent Myanmar’s junta from pursuing its vicious crackdown.
The latest victim of the military junta’s repressive machinery, which is trying journalists with increasing frequency, Sithu Aung Myint was convicted on 7 October by a special military court inside Yangon’s Insein prison, where he has been held ever since his arrest on 15 August 2021 at the end of manhunt reported by RSF at the time.
“The rate at which journalists are being sentenced to long prison terms in Myanmar is sickening,” said Daniel Bastard. “The world cannot watch Myanmar sink deeper into terror without doing anything. We call on Tom Andrews, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, to take action so that the international sanctions on Myanmar’s generals are toughened.”
In the course of a long career as a journalist, Sithu Aung Myint has worked as a reporter for the Burmese magazine Frontier Myanmar and as a political commentator for the US broadcaster Voice Of America (VOA). Both media outlets were banned in Myanmar after the February 2021 military coup, which forced him to go into hiding.
Second prison sentence in two days
He was convicted of “inciting government employees to commit crimes” under penal code Section 505 (a), a vaguely-worded law that the junta keeps using as a pretext to convict journalists.
Japanese documentary filmmaker Toru Kubota was sentenced to ten years in prison just two days before Sithu Aung Myint’s trial. And less than two weeks before that, on 28 September, a sentence of three years in prison with hard labour was confirmed for Htet Htet Khine, a freelance woman journalist who was arrested at the same time as Sithu Aung Myint.
According to RSF’s press freedom barometer, Sithu Aung Myint is the 29th journalist to be convicted since the February 2021 coup. With at least 68 media workers currently detained, Myanmar is the world’s second biggest jailer of journalists, second only to China. Relative to population size, it is the biggest jailer of journalists.
Myanmar is ranked 176th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2022 World Press Freedom Index.