Myanmar military court sentences freelancer to three years in prison

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the three-year jail sentence that a woman journalist held since January has just received from a court in Yangon for spreading “false news,” and calls on UN officials to do something to stop the current surge in prison sentences being passed on journalists in Myanmar.

Nyein Nyein Aye, a freelancer also known by the pseudonym of “Mabel,” was sentenced by a court inside Yangon’s notorious Insein prison on 14 July to three years in prison with hard labour on charges of “causing fear, spreading false news and agitating crimes against a government employee” under Section 505 (a) of the penal code.

“After the big wave of arrests of journalists following the February 2021 coup, we are now seeing a surge of sentences passed behind closed doors by military courts acting almost like a factory production line,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk. “In view of these shocking violations of basic rights, we urge Tom Andrews, the UN special rapporteur on Myanmar, to focus on the persecution of journalists and to take action to end these alarming abuses.”

Based in Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city, Nyein Nyein Aye was freelancing for various media outlets at the time of her arrest on 15 January, including Mizzima News, a news website that has been banned by the junta. Before the February 2021 coup, she worked for two newspapers, The Standard Time Daily and Kumudra Journal, a weekly.

According to RSF’s press freedom barometer, of the total of 67 media workers currently held in Myanmar’s prisons, she is the 24th journalist to receive a prison sentence. Just a week before her trial, Aung San Lin, a reporter for Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), was sentenced to six years of prison and hard labour.

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