Kay Zon Nway, a Myanmar Now reporter who was arrested while reporting on an anti-coup demonstration in Yangon in late February, has been put in solitary confinement at Insein Prison after she began fasting for Ramadan, her lawyer said.
The reporter was charged under Section 505a of the Penal Code for incitement, which carries a prison sentence of up to three years. She has been in solitary since April 28, but her lawyer, Nilar Khine, only found this out when she saw her at a hearing on Thursday.
“She says she hasn’t done anything,” Nilar Khine said. “Some people do sit-in protests in prison, but she’s fasting because it’s Ramadan. She’s being put in confinement for no reason.”
Prison officials could not be reached for further details on her situation. Thursday’s hearing was held not at a court but at the prison.
A woman who was recently released from Insein after being arrested for protesting told Myanmar Now that Kay Zon Nway was falsely accused of going on hunger strike when she began fasting for Ramadan.
“Kay Zon Nway is fasting for religious reasons but some individuals told the prison officials that she was protesting,” the woman said. “That’s why they’re doing this.’
The plaintiff in her case, a deputy police major at Sanchaung police station, testified at Thursday’s hearing that she was arrested for inciting protests under the Myaynigone bridge in Sanchaung, Nilar Khine said.
In response Nilar Khine told the hearing that Kay Zon Nway has the right to report under Myanmar’s media law.
“They accused her of incitement but she only had her phone and a tripod for the phone when she was arrested. Those are items used for reporting, not protesting,” the lawyer said.
The case against freelance reporter Soe Yarzar Tun, who has been hit with the same charge as Kay Zon Nway, was also heard at Thursday’s hearing. The next hearing is scheduled for May 20.
According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, 48 reporters are now being detained in Myanmar.