Min Nyo, a Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) reporter from Pyay in Bago Region, was sentenced to three years in prison by a court inside Pyay Prison on Wednesday.
Like many other detained reporters, he has not been able to contact his family.
“He was sentenced to three years under Section 505a. We could only meet with his lawyers. He’s still not been allowed to meet his family since his arrest,” Moe Moe, Min Nyo’s wife, told Myanmar Now.
Section 505a of the Penal Code punishes “incitement” with a prison sentence of three years, changed from two years following the February 1 coup by the military council.
The charge has been used against public figures, parliamentarians, media personnel, and others who oppose the military junta.
Moe Moe said she would be filing an appeal.
On March 3, soldiers and police beat and arrested Min Nyo while he was reporting on a protest in Pyay.
The military council filed a case against him claiming he had contacted a fire department member by phone and incited him to take part in the Civil Disobedience Movement. The verdict was delivered on his eighth hearing.
The military council has only been holding hearings for detainees within courts inside prison, justifying the practice as related to Covid-19 prevention.
Salai Kaung Myat Min, secretary of the Myay Latt Journalists Network said that the military crackdown on journalists has not stifled the reporting of news.
“They’ll arrest and torture you, make you feel uncomfortable and paranoid in your own home while abusing their power. These are just the dictator’s tactics. But the media is trying their best in ways that they can, they are not slowing down,” he said, adding, “there’s no way their actions should hinder us.”
London-based Amnesty International requested the reporter’s release on the day of his sentencing.
“The conviction and three-year sentence handed down to Min Nyo shows the appalling situation faced by journalists in Myanmar, where they risk life and liberty to shed light on the military’s abuses. The military authorities are ruthless, determined to crush dissent by silencing those who seek to expose their crimes,” Amnesty International’s statement said.
On March 1, another DVB reporter, Aung Kyaw, was arrested in his home in Myeik, Tanintharyi Region.
Members of the military council’s armed forces have also taken away Nay Lin, editor-in-chief of the Voice of Myanmar journal, and reporter Shine Aung for “discussions” and cut off contact between them and with their family members.
Zarni Mann, Nay Lin’s wife, told news outlets that her husband was taken to court in Mandalay’s Chanmyatharzi Township on Wednesday.
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) has reported that since the coup on February 1, some 48 reporters, including one from Myanmar Now, have been detained.
Kay Zon Nway, who was charged under 505a after being arrested in Myaynigone, has been in solitary confinement in Insein Prison since April 28.
Among the detained reporters, some from international outlets such as Xinhua, AP and BBC have been released but the majority were still in prison at the time of reporting.
Wunna Soe, a reporter from Eleven media who was arrested while covering a protest in Meiktila on March 6, was released on bail on the same day.
The military council announced that the publishing licences from Myanmar Now, Mizzima, DVB, 7Day and Khit Thit were revoked on March 8. On April 29, Kachin-based 74 Media and Myitkyina Journal saw their licences revoked as well.