A Myanmar journalist who live-streamed his violent arrest was sentenced to two years in jail on Wednesday, as the ruling military junta continues its crackdown on independent reporting.
A court in southern city of Myeik sentenced Aung Kyaw, who works for the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), using a colonial-era law that criminalises encouraging dissent against the military.
As part on its attack on freedom of expression, the junta revised the law soon after its Feb 01 coup to include incitement and spreading “fake news” as a crime.
Security forces conducted a night-time raid on Aung Kyaw’s house in March, days after he covered a brutal crackdown on anti-junta protests in Myeik.
He live-streamed his own arrest on DVB’s official Facebook page, with the chaotic footage showing loud bangs outside his apartment building.
“Please don’t terrorise,” he pleaded in the video. “If you are shooting like this, how will I come down?”
Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb 1, triggering a mass uprising as large swathes of the population took to the streets.
The junta responded with force – shooting protesters, arresting suspected dissidents in night raids, and targeting journalists and news outlets by shutting them down.
According to the Reporting ASEAN monitoring group, 87 journalists have been arrested since the coup, with 51 still in detention.
Several foreign journalists have been detained and US citizen Danny Fenster was held while attempting to leave the country on May 24.
The Frontier Myanmar news outlet he worked for said on Monday it had yet to receive any information on his whereabouts or wellbeing, a week after he was arrested.
A well-known news organisation within Myanmar, DVB started as an exile media outlet during the previous junta prior to 2011, broadcasting uncensored reports on TV and radio.
The junta revoked its broadcast licence in March, sending its journalists into hiding.
Despite this setback, it has continued to report, posting regular Facebook updates – as well as broadcasting on satellite TV – about the daily protests and crackdowns. (Source: CNA)