The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists for press freedom, today vehemently condemned the abduction and apparent detention of BBC Burmese journalist Aung Thura and former Mizzima news reporter Than Htike Aung in Myanmar’s capital Nay Pyi Taw.
According to media reports, Aung Thura and Than Htike Aung were abducted by unidentified men believed to be plainclothes security officers. Their whereabouts remain unknown. The BBC has called on the authorities to locate Aung Thura and confirm his safety.
“We are extremely alarmed by the abduction and apparent detention of Aung Thura and Than Htike Aung and demand their immediate release”, IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said.
He added: “Myanmar’s military is continuing its crackdown on journalists, aiming to silence all news about the protests against its illegal regime. The IPI global network stands behind all journalists working in Myanmar, and we expect a strong response from the international community against the junta’s brutal tactics to intimidate the press.”
The BBC said in a statement that it was extremely concerned over the kidnapping of its Burmese language reporter. “Aung Thura is an accredited BBC journalist with many years of reporting experience covering events in Nay Pyi Taw”, the statement said. “The BBC takes the safety of all its staff in Myanmar very seriously and we are doing everything we can to find Aung Thura. We call on the authorities to help locate him and confirm that he is safe”, the broadcaster added.
Between February 1 and March 15, at least 39 journalists were detained in Myanmar, according to Frontier Myanmar. Twenty-two of those were later released. Those still under detention include Associated Press journalist Thein Zaw, who was arrested on February 27.
The authorities have increasingly sought to crackdown on journalistic coverage of the protests against the military coup. The military has cancelled the licences of at least five news organizations, which however continue to disseminate news through social media platforms.