Trial begins for six arrested reporters

Six reporters arrested in late February while covering anti-coup protests made their first appearance in court on Friday to face charges of incitement.

Kay Zon Nway (Myanmar Now), Aung Ye Ko (7Day), Ye Myo Khant (Myanmar Pressphoto Agency), Thein Zaw (AP), Hein Pyae Zaw (ZeeKwat Media), and freelance reporter Banyar Oo have all been charged under section 505a of the Penal Code.  

The first hearings in their cases were conducted via videolink, according to their lawyers, who added that they submitted letters authorizing their power of attorney on Friday.

“They were put on trial through video conferencing today. We submitted the PA letters on the first day,” said lawyer Nilar Khaing, who is representing Kay Zon Nway.

Kay Zon Nway, who was arrested in Myaynigone, was arraigned in the Sanchaung township court, while the other reporters, who were taken into custody near the Hledan junction, were arraigned in the Kamaryut township court.

The second hearing is scheduled for March 25.

According to the Facebook page Detained Journalists Information Myanmar, 37 journalists have been arrested in the country since the military seized power on February 1. The list was last updated on March 9.

In addition to those arrested in Yangon, two reporters in Monywa, in northern Myanmar’s Sagaing region, and DVB journalist Aung Kyaw, who was arrested in his home in Myeik, Tanintharyi region,  have been charged under section 505a.

Section 505a of the Penal Code was recently amended by the junta to effectively outlaw encouraging government workers to go on strike as part of the Civil Disobedience Movement against military rule. 

Those found guilty of violating the law face up to two years in prison.

Besides arresting reporters, the ruling military council has also ordered raids on independent news agencies.

Over the past week, the offices of Kamaryut News, Mizzima, and Myanmar Now have all been raided by armed military personnel in an effort to clamp down on reporting of the regime’s crimes.

On Tuesday, Han Thar Nyein, one of the co-founders of Kamaryut News, and its editor-in-chief Nay Than Maung were arrested by the military. Their whereabouts remain unknown.


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