A photojournalist released in Myanmar: RSF urges the junta to free the 64 other reporters still detained
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is relieved by the release of Myanmar photojournalist Kaung Sett Lin, but insists that he should never have been arrested. The organisation urges the military junta to free all the 64 other journalists still detained in the country.
On 4 January 2024, Myanmar photographer Kaung Sett Lin was released one year before the completion of his term under an amnesty decreed by the military junta.
The media professional was sentenced in March 2022 to three years in prison with hard labour on trumped-up charges of “inciting rebellion”, under Section 505 (a) of Myanmar’s penal code. Outside the jail, he expressed to a Radio Free Asia journalist his sadness at being unable to reunite with his mother, who died while he was imprisoned, and his wish to see his "remaining detained journalists brothers released".
A photojournalist for the Myanmar Press Photo Agency, he was detained in the notorious Insein prison, located in a northern suburb of Yangon, the country's largest city, for more than two years.
"We welcome the release of Kaung Sett Lin, but we insist that he should never have been arrested, let alone sentenced to a prison term on trumped-up charges. We now call on the Myanmar junta for the immediate release of the 64 other journalists and press freedom defenders who are still detained.
Kaung Sett Lin was arrested on 5 December 2021 along with his colleague, video reporter Hmu Yadanar, while covering an anti-regime “flash mob” in Yangon. Both were badly injured, while the junta forces crashed a car into the protest using, and opened fire.
Hmu Yadanar, who’s suffering from sustaining serious head and leg injuries, is still being held in Insein prison. She has also been sentenced to a three-year jail term on charges of “inciting rebellion” and later received an additional 10-year sentence on charges of “financing terrorism”. In May 2023, RSF called on the UN special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar to take up her case to seek international sanctions against the military junta.
The upheaval of the Myanmar media landscape began just a few days after the putsch on 1 February 2021. The junta quickly published a blacklist of banned media. Since then, four journalists have been killed by the army: the founder of the Khonumthung news agency Pu Tuidim; the editor of the Federal News Journal Sai Win Aung; and the two freelance photojournalists Soe Naing and Aye Kaw.
Myanmar, ranked 173th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2023 World Press Freedom Index, is one of the world’s biggest jailers of journalists, second only to China.