Myanmar security forces arrest BBC journalist reporting on protests


A BBC News reporter has gone missing after being taken away by unidentified men while working in protest-hit Myanmar on Friday as clashes continue between the country’s security forces and protesters.

Aung Thura was taken away by men in plain clothes while reporting outside a court in the capital, Nay Pyi Taw.

BBC said it was extremely concerned with the missing reporter’s welfare and called on the authorities to help locate him.

“The BBC takes the safety of all its staff in Myanmar very seriously and we are doing everything we can to find Aung Thura,” the broadcasting corporation said in a statement.

“We call on the authorities to help locate him and confirm that he is safe. Aung Thura is an accredited BBC journalist with many years of reporting experience covering events in Nay Pyi Taw.”

Aung Thura was taken away with another reporter, Than Htike Aung, who works for the local news organisation Mizzima. Mizzima’s operating licence was revoked by the military government earlier this month.

The men who detained the journalists arrived in an unmarked van at around on Friday and demanded to see them. The BBC has been unable to contact Aung Thura since.

Forty journalists have been arrested since a military coup on February 01, which saw the detention of elected civilian leaders including Aung San Suu Kyi. Sixteen are still in custody, and the military has revoked the licences of five media companies.

At least eight people are reported to have died in the most recent protests, which took place in several cities.

The eight people killed on Friday were shot dead by security forces in the central town of Aungban, according to a funeral director and local media.

“Security forces came to remove barriers but the people resisted and they fired shots,” a witness told Reuters news agency.

Reports from Yangon say the streets have been congested as many people try to flee violence in the country’s main city. Police there are also said to be forcing people to remove barricades put up by protesters.

Post-coup violence has claimed the lives of at least 232 Burmese, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners activist group says. One of the bloodiest days was March 14 when 38 were killed.

A joint statement by European Union embassies and those of the US and the UK condemned “the brutal violence against unarmed civilians by security forces”.

The statement called on the military to lift martial law, release detainees, end the state of emergency and restore democracy.

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has meanwhile criticised the use of lethal force by the military and called for “a path towards peaceful solutions”.

He echoed a call by the Indonesian President, Joko Widodo, for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to hold a summit on the situation in Myanmar. (Source: BBC)