In Myanmar, news is emerging that security forces have shot dead eight people – during a confrontation with opponents of the recent military coup. Local news outlet Myanmar Now says seven people were killed in the central town of Aungban. Mobile phone footage from the scene shows that people have also been wounded. One person died of their injuries after being taken to a nearby hospital.
News like this is increasingly hard to get out, as Myanmar’s military continues a brutal crackdown on dissent. That crackdown has affected protesters and the media itself. The UN says at least five local news outlets have had their license revoked – including Myanmar Now. In addition, more than 30 journalists have been arrested.
Kay Zon Nwe is one of the local reporters and editors who were taken into custody, sometimes under threat of death. Members of the foreign press have also been targets, such as Thein Zaw — a photographer for the Associated Press.
It’s believed many jailed journalists are awaiting trial at Inn Sein prison, a facility that’s notorious for human rights abuses. They could face three-year jail sentences on charges of spreading false information.
Video shows police officers in Yangon charging after anti-military demonstrators – and a journalist taking photos of it all. Several police surround Thein Zaw as he tries to get away. One puts him in a chokehold. He’s then handcuffed and dragged off. This happened in late February.
Thein Zaw’s pictures were to be sent to his employer, the global news agency AP. Outlets, like DW, then buy this material. So journalists like him are critical for international media to be able to report on Myanmar.
Instead, Thein Zaw is now behind bars. He and a growing number of journalists and media workers are facing up to three years in jail – under vague charges of violating a public order law.
It’s estimated over 200 people have been killed in a brutal crackdown on largely peaceful protests, since the military’s takeover on February 1. Getting information is becoming trickier, too. The military regularly shuts the internet down, and it’s blocked some social media sites. It’s also withdrawn the licenses of five major media outlets.
A decade after the end of the junta in Myanmar – the military is back in charge. It’s a major setback for press freedom. And for journalists on the ground, it means facing censorship, threats and intimidation once again.
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