Junta forces in Yangon detain and interrogate journalist’s 7-year-old daughter 

Junta forces detained and interrogated the seven-year-old daughter of a journalist who the coup regime has accused of possessing explosives, a source close to the family has revealed. 

Soldiers detained Htet Htet Aung, a news editor with the Yangon-based Thingangyun Post, along with a reporter at the newspaper named Wai Lin Yu on September 11. 

They also took Htet Htet Aung’s daughter, Lin Demo, with them to the interrogation center in Hlaing Tharyar Township, along with a distant relative of Htet Htet Aung’s.

The two journalists are now being held at Insein Prison. The child was released along with the distant relative after two days of being questioned. 

“The girl said that she was asked if she saw her mother buying guns. She said that she answered that her mother didn’t do anything like that and that she never even bought her toy guns,” said the source close to the family.

Officers from the Thaketa Township police station told the family that explosives were found in the journalists’ possession when they were arrested, she added. 

“Her family said that it didn’t make sense that they were pressing charges against journalists for possession of explosives, instead of charges that have to do with journalism,” she said. 

The two journalists are facing charges under Section 5 of the Explosive Substances Act, which carries a sentence of between 10 years and life in prison, the source added. 

Thingangyun Post’s Facebook page published news on anti-dictatorship protests up until early September.

The junta has accused several other detained journalists of supporting violence in recent weeks.  

Late last month Win Naing Oo, a chief reporter at Channel Mandalay was charged under Section 52a of the Counter-Terrorism Law, as were D Myat Nyein and Pyae Phyo Aung, two reporters from the Sagaing-based Zayar Times. 

Myint Kyaw, a former member of the Myanmar Press Council, said the terrorism charges were a way for the junta to detain journalists for longer. 

“I think this was done in order to add more to the pressure on the media in the way that they could continue to detain them for the terrorism charges even when they would release those detained under Section 505a.” he said, referring to a law against incitement used against many opponents of the junta. 

Than Hteik Aung, a former editor with Mizzima was charged with Section 505a after being detained on March 19. Before his arrest, he posted a picture of himself on Facebook giving a three-fingered Hunger Games salute. 

Than Hteik Aung, like many other detainees, was tortured during interrogation, sources who spoke to him in prison told Myanmar Now. 

Than Hteik Aung was left out of a recent amnesty that saw the release of several other journalists detained under Section 505a. He is still being held at the Naypyitaw Detention Center

His parents, who make a small living running a laundry service, made the costly trip to Naypyitaw to see him during his court hearings, but have been unable to see him because the hearings are now being held online. 

“My boy is still alive, that’s all that matters,” said his father, Hsan Lwin. “So many people have died but our boy is still alive. That’s what I keep telling myself so I can cope.”  

“My son stood for the truth. He is suffering for the truth. Therefore I believe that the truth will set him free one day,” he added. 

In late September Lwei Em Phao, a TV reporter for the Shwe Phi Myay News Agency in Lashio, was also arrested and charged with incitement. Soldiers raided the outlet’s offices in May. 

Roughly 100 journalists have been detained since the February 1 coup, and around half of them are still in detention.

Earlier this month the American Managing Editor of Frontier Myanmar, Danny Fenster, received the highest sentence of any journalist since the coup–11 years–but was released and deported three days later.  

Related Articles

Back to top button