By NJ Thakuria
Guwahati: Sending scribes and other democratic activists to jails under arbitrary laws becomes a new normal for Myanmar (also known as Burma), as the military regime in NayPieTaw tries its best to control the public outrages since the south-east Asian nation faced a coup on 1 February throwing the elected representatives out of legitimate power.
Lately, the military junta led by general Min Aung Hlaing, put two reports of Mizzima media group behind the bars allegedly for ‘spreading false news’. A special prison court in Yangon following a newly revised law about spreading wring information recently jailed Ko Aung Kyaw (from Democratic Voice of Burma) and Ko Zaw Zaw (from Mizzima media group) for two years because of their anti-coup public protest coverages.
Over 85 journalists were arrested in the last four months where at least 50 scribes are still under the custody of Burmese junta as they continued reporting the public demonstrations demanding for restoration of the elected government virtually led by Nobel laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. The civil disobedient movement has resulted in the killing of at least 841 demonstrators by the security forces.
With relentless crack downs on protesters, the military personnel also targeted the media with cancelling their licences, slowing down the internet services and also physically assaulting the media workers in various occasions. Even foreign journalists were also not spared as US citizen Danny Fenster, who edits Frontier Myanmar magazine, was picked up by the armed forces recently while he was about to fly back home from Yangon.
Speaking to this correspondent from an undisclosed location, Mizzima chief editor Soe Myint informed that Mr Zaw is the sixth staff of his media group, who was detained by the militaries since the coup took place. Five of Mizzima members including its co-founder Daw Thin Thin Aung are currently in jail facing 3 years of imprisonment. Demanding their releases, Mr Myint asserted that journalism is not a crime and all independent media outlets should be allowed to work freely in
“Zaw was sentenced under section 505(a) of the Burmese penal code, which makes it a crime to publish or circulate any alleged any rumour or misinformation with intent to cause alarm among the public or incite the public to commit a crime against the government,” said Mr Myint appealing to the international community to support Mizzima and other media groups based inside and outside the land of golden pagodas.