Dawei protest leader and journalist sentenced to two years in prison 

A youth anti-dictatorship activist and a journalist were convicted of incitement and handed a two-year prison sentence with hard labour in a junta court in Dawei, Tanintharyi Region last week, sources close to them said. 

Htoo Myat Lwin, a 22-year-old member of the Coalition Strike Committee of Dawei, and Sai Ko Ko Tun, a 28-year-old former reporter at 7Day News, had no lawyers present at their trial in the court inside Dawei Prison, which delivered its verdict on January 28. 

They were convicted of violating Section 505a of the Penal Code. 

“It is not yet known if they will face more charges,” a source familiar with the case told Myanmar Now on the condition of anonymity. 

The military council-appointed judge in the case ruled that Htoo Myat Lwin was guilty of participating in and leading anti-coup protests, joining the strike committee and inciting others to join anti-dictatorship activities, a source in the prison said. 

Sai Ko Ko Tun’s conviction was for covering the protests as a journalist and sending the reports to Myanmar Now. 

Family members of the defendants were not allowed into the court on the day of the verdict and only learned of the sentencing from sources close to the prison officers, a relative of Htoo Myat Lwin said. 

They could not afford to hire legal representation for Htoo Myat Lwin, he explained. 

“He defended himself in court without a lawyer. He was afraid the family would face difficulties if he hired a lawyer,” the relative said. 

Sai Ko Ko Tun also did not have a lawyer present. 

Around 30 junta troops arrested both men at Sai Ko Ko Tun’s home in Dawei’s Bon Maw ward on November 30 last year. Also detained were Sai Ko Ko Tun’s father and sister, who were released days later. 

From January 5 until the end of the month, 31 people were sentenced within the same court in Dawei Prison, the prison source said, convicted of incitement or Section 51 of the Counterterrorism Law for the use of explosive devices. 

The junta’s armed forces raided the Myanmar Now office in Yangon’s Pabedan Township on March 8 last year, five weeks after the February coup, and imposed a publication and broadcasting ban on five news outlets in the commercial capital, including Myanmar Now. The other four targeted organisations were 7Day, DVB, Khit Thit Media and Mizzima, with the coup regime’s information ministry later adding 74 Media, Delta News Agency, Myitkyina News Journal and Tachileik News Agency to the blacklist. 

Internet services were disrupted and access was blocked to continued TV news broadcasts by outlets such as DVB and Mizzima. 

Since the coup, 100 journalists have been detained by the military council, which has accused them of violating the law. Among them were three staff members from Dawei Watch, who were detained for eight days in late January. 

At the time of reporting, around half of the reporters arrested nationwide were still behind bars. 

Related Articles

Back to top button