Two more journalists arrested by Myanmar’s military junta
A columnist and a BBC Media Action presenter who were in hiding in Yangon were tracked down and arrested on 15 August and have been held incommunicado ever since. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns these latest arbitrary arrests, carried out at the behest of Myanmar’s military, and calls for their immediate release.
Sithu Aung Myint, whose political commentary appears in the magazine Frontier Myanmar and radio Voice Of America, and Htet Htet Khine, who presents a programme called “Khan Sar Kyi” (Burmese for “Feel it”) for BBC Media Action, were arrested at the Bahan Township apartment where they had been hiding.
Their arrest was reported by exile media outlets on 19 August. The two journalists have had not access to a lawyer since their arrest.
“The arrest of Sithu Aung Myint and Htet Htet Khine is all the more unacceptable because they are being held incommunicado in violation of all the most elementary international laws,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk. “We strongly condemn the arbitrary conditions of their detention, which reflect the brutality with which the military junta treats journalists.”
Sithu Aung Myint was one of the many journalists on a junta blacklist whose existence RSF reported in April. As such, he was wanted under section 505(a) of the penal code, which penalises the dissemination of information contrary to the interests of the armed forces, among other “crimes.”
He and Htet Htet Khine have joined the 50 or so other journalists currently held in Myanmar’s prisons, of whom RSF is keeping a regular tally.
They were the first journalists to be arrested in nearly a month. Mya Wunn Yan, the editor-in-chief of the local news agency Lwin Thway Chinn, was arrested by police in the eastern state of Shan on 20 July and has been held ever since.
At the end of July, RSF published a timeline of all the measures taken by the military to crush press freedom in Myanmar in the first six months after seizing power in a coup d’état on 1 February.
Myanmar is currently ranked 140th out of 180 countries in RSF's World Press Freedom Index.