The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, media executives and journalists for press freedom, today condemned the arrest in Myanmar on October 10 of three journalists with the Eleven Media group and demanded their immediate release.
According to reports, police summoned top editors U Kyaw Zaw Lin and Nari Min along with chief reporter U Phyo Wai Win to the Tamwe Police Station for questioning based on a complaint filed by the provincial government of Yangon. The complaint focused on a report published in The Weekly Eleven criticizing the Yangon government for alleged mismanagement and for providing loans without parliamentary approval to the Yangon Metropolitan Public Company in which the regional planning and finance minister owns more than 60,000 shares.
The journalists have been charged with showing disrespect to the government and have been sent to Insein Prison. They cannot apply for bail and face sentences of up to two years in prison if found guilty.
“The arrest of Eleven Media group journalists is an affront to press freedom in Myanmar and demonstrates that the government in Myanmar is close to becoming an authoritarian regime that does not believe in democracy”, IPI Head of Advocacy Ravi R. Prasad said, demanding the journalists’ immediate release.
“These journalists were doing their job of exposing government mismanagement.”
The Myanmar government and Aung San Suu Kyi in particular have been heavily criticized for the sentencing of Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo to seven years in prison in August after they were found guilty of breaching the country’s Official Secrets Act.
“In spite of international criticism, Myanmar’s government appears to believe that by arresting journalists it will be able to silence critics”, Prasad added. “Like Aung San Suu Kyi, who continued her struggle for democracy while she was under arrest, journalists too will continue to investigate and expose the misdeeds of the government and public figures in the country against all odds.”