News

October 10, 2018

Myanmar : RSF calls for release of three Eleven Media journalists

Phyo Wai Win (2nd R), the detained chief editor of one of the news journals of Eleven Media Group, already had to face charges in January 2017, in a high-profile defamation case that has become at this time a lightning rod for fears over teetering press freedoms under Aung San Suu Kyi government (photo: Romeo Gacad / AFP).
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the immediate and unconditional release of three Eleven Media journalists who were arrested by the Yangon police this morning over a report published on 8 October about the Yangon regional budget.

The three journalists – chief editor Kyaw Zaw Lin, chief reporter Nayi Min and senior editor Phyo Wai Win – are facing up to two years in prison under article 505 (b) of Myanmar’s penal code, which penalizes the publication of reports that could cause “fear or alarm to the public.”

 

Charged with “showing disrespect toward the Yangon regional government,” they have been placed in Yangon’s Insein prison and, under article 505 (b), have no possibility of being freed on bail.

 

“We call for the immediate release of these three Eleven Media journalists,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk. “Imprisoning journalists in connection with their work is unacceptable in a country that claims to be transitioning to democracy. This kind of meddling takes Myanmar one step further away from the rule of law and respect for press freedom.”


Loss of journalistic independence


The Eleven Media Group, which publishes five weeklies, has played a fundamental role in the emergence of a civil society in Myanmar and was awarded the RSF Press Freedom Prize in 2011.

 

Today’s arrests of three senior Eleven Media journalists of long standing will inevitably fuel concern about the loss of journalistic independence in Myanmar and is likely to encourage even more self-censorship.

 

As a result of the growing concern, RSF last week issued an “incident report” about the threat to Myanmar’s position in the World Press Freedom Index, in which it is currently ranked 137th out of 180 countries.