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Myanmar: 3 year sentence for journalist who coverd coup shows journalism has been 'criminalised'

Min Nyo had been covering the recent military coup for award winning outlet Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB)

Amnesty is calling on Thailand not to return his exiled colleagues arrested earlier this week

‘The military authorities are ruthless, determined to crush dissent by silencing those who seek to expose their crimes’ - Emerlynne Gil

Responding to news of the conviction and three-year jail term handed down by a Myanmar court to Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) journalist Min Nyo for his reporting on the post-coup reality in Myanmar today, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Southeast & East Asia, Emerlynne Gil, said:

“The conviction and three-year sentence handed down to Min Nyo shows the appalling situation faced by journalists in Myanmar, where they risk life and liberty to shed light on the military’s abuses. The military authorities are ruthless, determined to crush dissent by silencing those who seek to expose their crimes.

“Since the 1 February coup, scores of journalists have been arbitrarily detained, threatened, arrested and even shot at.

“Journalism in Myanmar has effectively been criminalised and DVB, a publication which began in exile, has been forced underground once more. 

“Min Nyo’s conviction must be quashed, and he should be released immediately – along with all other journalists, activists and human rights defenders imprisoned and detained solely for their peaceful opposition to the military coup.”

Journalism criminalised

Min Nyo was sentenced to three years in prison under Section 505(a) of Myanmar’s Penal Code. He had been arrested in Pyay, Bago Region on 3 March. According to a statement from DVB, he was beaten by police during his arrest and sustained injuries at this time.

Section 505(a) of the colonial-era Penal Code makes it a crime to publish or circulate any ‘statement, rumour or report, with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, any officer, soldier, sailor or airman, in the Army, Navy or Air Force to mutiny or otherwise disregard or fail in his duty as such". This law is often used by the military authorities to persecute journalists and activists, in violation of the rights to freedom of expression. 

Since the coup on 1 February, the Myanmar military has revoked the licenses of several media outlets including DVB.

Thailand must not deport Myanmar journalists at grave risk

On Sunday, Thai authorities arrested three of Min Nyo’s DVB colleagues in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, as well as two activists. They had been covering the anti-coup protests in Myanmar until 8 March, when DVB’s TV licence was suspended and they had to flee to Thailand. The five are being detained pending a court decision on their case.

Amnesty reiterates its call for the Thai authorities not to forcibly return the journalists to Myanmar. Non-refoulement is an international legal principle that prohibits the transfer of individuals to another country or jurisdiction where they would face a real risk of serious human rights violations or abuses. It is part of customary international law, making it binding upon all states regardless of whether they ratified the relevant treaties.

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