A Burmese court on Friday accused six journalists of violating public order in another episode of harassment of the press and in the midst of the repression of protests against the military junta. Burmese justice, which held different views for each detainee, extended the preventive detention of Thein Zaw , a photographer for the AP agency, who faces up to three years in prison if convicted, reported this American media.
Before the hearings, the European Union (EU) Delegation in Burma said the reporters had been detained for doing their job and that the court should drop the charges and order their immediate release. “Threats to journalists are threats to democracy,” added the European Delegation, which asked that the right of expression and information be protected.
Arrest of a Polish photographer
On Thursday, a group of soldiers detained a Polish photographer in the northeast of the country, as confirmed by the Polish Foreign Ministry to the Onet news portal. According to some Burmese media, the detainee is Robert Bociag, a photographer who collaborated with CNN and The Diplomat, and it is feared that he was ill-treated during his detention in Taunggyi, the capital of Shan state.
According to the Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners (AAPP) in Burma, about 40 journalists have been arrested since the coup on February 1, out of a total of 2,045 arrested, of whom 1,726 remain in custody.
The military junta, whose crackdown on peaceful protests has killed more than 70 people mainly due to gunfire by police and soldiers, also systematically harasses journalists and media covering the demonstrations.
Many reporters live under the threat of arrest and some change the place where they spend the night almost daily for fear of night-time raids by soldiers and military in search of dissidents and critics of the regime.
On Monday, the authorities announced the revocation of the licenses of Myanmar Now, 7Day News, Democratic Voice of Burma, Mizzima and Khit Thit News, which broadcast the protests live and follow up on the brutal repression carried out by the authorities.
The next day, soldiers raided Mizzima and Kamayut Media offices in Rangoon, the former capital , where they arrested their co-founder, Han Thar Nyein, and editor-in-chief Nathan Maung.
The judicial harassment is also directed against the deposed politicians, including the former de facto leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who yesterday was accused by the military junta of illegally accepting money and gold .
The lawyer Khin Maung Zaw, one of Suu Kyi’s legal representatives, today described the complaint against the former president as a “hilarious joke”, who has also been accused of illegally importing telephone devices and violating covid-19 regulations . Suu Kyi, under arrest since the day of the military coup, faces jail time if she is found guilty of one or more of the crimes she is charged with.
Protests and repression
Meanwhile, Burmese people continue to protest peacefully in various cities across the country despite arrests and repression with tear gas, stun grenades, and rubber and live ammunition.
In protests that are being broadcast almost live on social media, Burmese continue to take to the streets daily to call for the return of democracy and to demand the release of their detained leaders, including Suu Kyi.
The uniformed men justify the coup for an alleged electoral fraud in the elections last November, in which Suu Kyi’s party destroyed and which were described as legitimate by international observers.