Myanmar regime court sentences journalist to three years in prison

A court in Yangon sentenced Myanmar journalist Htet Htet Khine, a freelance producer for BBC Media Action, to three years in prison with hard labour on Thursday.

The Bahan Township court convicted Htet Htet Khine of incitement under Section 505a of the Penal Code more than a year after her arrest in August of last year.

She was arrested along with columnist Sithu Aung Myint at an apartment where they had been hiding in Yangon’s Bahan Township. The junta accused her of harbouring Sithu Aung Myint in her home and of working as an editor for a radio station run by the shadow National Unity Government (NUG) called Federal FM.

The coup regime initially opened a case against her under Section 17(1) of the Unlawful Associations Act for her alleged involvement with the NUG, which the junta has designated a terrorist group.

That case—for which she faces an additional three-year sentence if found guilty—is still pending.

In addition to her work as a producer, Htet Htet Khine also presented a program called “Khan Sar Kyi”—“Feel It”—for BBC Media Action. 

Sithu Aung Myint, a contributor to media outlets such as VOA Burmese and Frontier Myanmar, had been evading arrest since the coup regime charged him with incitement in April of last year. Following his arrest, he was also charged with sedition, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

In a statement, BBC Media Action’s director of programmes, Richard Lace, said that the organisation was “alarmed” by the sentence and expressed concern for Htet Htet Khine’s safety and well-being.

“This, and other detentions of media workers in the country, runs counter to basic principles of human rights and freedom of expression,” he said.

The two journalists are being detained in Yangon’s notorious Insein Prison.

Since the coup in February last year, the regime has forced at least 12 media outlets to shut down and arrested 142 journalists. Of these, 57 remain behind bars, including 26 who have already been convicted on various charges.

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