Yangon arrest brings number of media workers currently held in Myanmar to 60
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Thu Rein Kyaw, co-founder and coordinator of the Media Top 4 news outlet, who was arrested in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, two days after the first anniversary of the military coup, bringing the number of media collaborators currently held by the military to 60.
RSF has confirmed that, in the continuing relentless crackdown on the media, Thu Rein Kyaw (ကိုသူရိန်ကျော် in Burmese) was arrested when soldiers raided and searched his apartment in Yangon’s Insein township on the afternoon of 3 February. Located in northwestern Yangon, Insein is notorious for being the site of Myanmar’s largest prison, where at least 14 journalists are currently detained.
Thu Rein Kyaw become one of the military’s first victims after they seized power in a coup d’état on 1 February 2021. While covering a demonstration the next day in support of the Tatmadaw, as Myanmar’s armed forces are known, he was badly beaten by unidentified individuals, and photographs circulated online showing his injuries, including an eye injury.
According to RSF’s press freedom barometer, his arrest has brought the number of media professionals currently detained in Myanmar to 60.
“We demand the immediate release of Thu Rein Kyaw and all the other journalists who are paying with their freedom for having tried to inform the world about the tragedy taking place in Myanmar,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk. “The international community, civil society and businessmen who have dealings with Myanmar cannot be indifferent to the damning list of arrests of journalists. It is high time to prevent Myanmar’s military junta from completing its normalisation process.”
After last year’s coup, RSF embarked on a major advocacy campaign whose targets including multinationals operating in Myanmar. RSF wrote to 15 corporations urging them to end all activity that directly or indirectly supported the junta. Several of them, including TotalEnergies, Chevron, Voltalia, Telenor and Ericsson, finally announced that they plan to pull out of Myanmar in the near future.
Myanmar is ranked 140th out of 180 countries in RSF’s latest World Press Freedom Index, which was compiled in early 2021, before the biggest surge in press freedom violations.