RSF calls for tougher sanctions against Myanmar’s junta after three more journalists get prison sentences
Three Burmese journalists have just been sentenced to four or five years in prison, bringing to five the number of journalists to have received long jail terms from Myanmar’s military junta since late November. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for their immediate release and urges the international community to do much more to combat the junta’s escalating terror.
The latest victim is Soe Yarzar Tun, a Yangon-based freelancer who was sentenced by the special court inside Yangon’s Insein prison on 16 December to four years in prison with hard labour under Section 52 (a) of the Counter-Terrorism Law, according to the Assistance Association For Political Prisoners (AAPP).
The special court also sentenced two Thingangyun Post news website journalists, editor-in-charge Htet Htet Aung and editor-in-chief Wai Linn Yu, to five years in prison under Section 5 of the Explosive Substances Act. They were allegedly “caught with explosives” when arrested on 11 November 2021.
These latest sentences were preceded by those of Sithu Aung Myint and Myo San Soe, two journalists who received record sentences of 12 and 15 years in prison, respectively, in early December and late November from the Tatmadaw, as Myanmar’s armed forces are called.
“The Burmese generals are sinking ever deeper into a policy of terror, with journalists at the forefront of the victims,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk. “With less than two months to go to the second anniversary of the February 2021 coup, the international community must adopt tougher sanctions against Naypyidaw's dictatorship.”
Arrested for the first time on 28 February 2021 while covering streets protests against the military coup, Soe Yarzar Tun was held in Insein prison under Section 505 (a) of the Criminal Code (which penalises false information about government officials) until his release on 30 June 2021 under an amnesty.
He was rearrested on 10 March 2022 in Thonse, a town 70 km north of Yangon, a few days after eluding a military raid on the monastery where he had been staying. His case illustrates the military junta’s judicial persecution of media personnel.
Ranked 176th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2022 World Press Freedom Index, Myanmar is currently holding at least 62 journalists, which makes it the world’s second biggest jailer of media personnel (second only to China).