Myanmar Now reporter among at least eight charged for covering anti-coup protests 

At least eight journalists including Myanmar Now’s multimedia reporter Kay Zon Nway have been charged after being detained while covering anti-coup protests, according to lawyers and media reports. 

Kay Zon Nway was arrested on Saturday during a crackdown on a protest in Yangon’s Sanchaung township. 

Five others were detained in Hledan the same day. They were: Aung Ye Ko from 7Day, Ye Myo Khant from the Myanmar Pressphoto Agency, Thein Zaw from the Associated Press, Hein Pyae Zaw from Zee Kwat Media, and freelancer Banyar Oo.

All six have been kept at Insein prison in Yangon since their arrests and have been remanded in custody until March 12. 

Lawyers were informed about the charges on Tuesday but Nilar Khine, who will be representing Kay Zon Nway, said there was still confusion about what law the reporters have been charged under. 

It is either section 505(a) of the Penal Code or a newly added section 505A. The latter prohibits spreading “fake news” and carries a maximum sentence of up to three years in prison. 

Nilar Khine said that an Insein prison official told her to come back on Wednesday to submit her application for power of attorney.

“Parents and family members are not allowed prison visits since Covid-19 began… but we will ask for permission to meet with our clients because we will be representing them. I don’t know yet if I will be allowed,” Nilar Khine said.

Kay Zon Nway was charged at the Sanchaung township court and her first hearing is scheduled for March 12, when the plaintiff and defense will submit witnesses. The five others were charged at the Kamaryut township court.

Another two journalists from Monywa in Sagaing region were arrested and charged on February 25 and released on bail the same day, according to media reports.

At least 28 journalists have been arrested since the February 1 coup and 14 of those were released either on the same day or a few days later, according to Detained Journalists Information Myanmar, a project by journalists and writers.  

On Monday night, police and soldiers in Myeik raided the house of DVB reporter Aung Kyaw and arrested him, a live-stream he took of the incident showed. In the video, the reporter can be heard calling out for help amid loud bangs that sound like gunfire.

“I am hit in the head. Help me. Help me. Please bang the tin pots,” Aung Kyaw shouted in the video, which was broadcast on DVB’s Facebook page.

Family members later told local media that Aung Kyaw was dragged away by soldiers and police at around 10pm on Monday night. He had been covering deadly crackdowns on protests in the coastal town.

Myanmar Now was unable to confirm his current status or if he has been charged. 

Zeyar Hlaing, an editor at Mawkun Magazine, said the military council is arresting journalists to cover up its brutality against anti-coup protesters.

“Journalists do not have a choice but to report on something if it’s news,” said Zeyar Hlaing, who recently resigned from his position on the Myanmar Press Council after the coup to protest the new regime.

“They are pointing guns at whoever they see, attacking and arresting. It is like living in a lawless country. No one is safe. This situation is the most serious threat to the jobs of journalists,” he said.


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