Following the sentencing of Myanmar Now photojournalist Sai Zaw Thaike to 20 years in prison for dissemination of false information and sedition for reporting on the aftermath of Cyclone Mocha, the Press Freedom Monitoring in Southeast Asia (PFMSea) calls for an immediate and unconditional release of all journalists who have been detained or imprisoned in Myanmar for doing their job.
On September 6, 2023, a military court inside the Insein Prison in Yangon, Myanmar, gave a 20-year prison sentence to Sai Zaw Thaike, a photojournalist for Myanmar Now, an independent media source after publishing the report on the storm's aftermath, which killed over 140 people, while many of them Rohingya refugees. He was charged with four counts, including dissemination of false information and sedition, which are frequently used to persecute journalists.
The military junta in Myanmar continues to crack down on free expression and the press. According to IFJ, at least 176 journalists have been arrested since the military coup in February 2021 and at least 50 are currently in jail and police detention.
Journalism is not a crime. The junta is using vague and repressive laws to silence dissent and control the narrative. Section 505A of the penal code, for example, criminalizes the publication or circulation of comments that "cause fear" or spread "false news." This is a clear violation of the right to freedom of expression and the press.
We stand in solidarity with all journalists in Myanmar who are risking their lives to report to truth and hold power accountable.
We demand the immediate and unconditional release of all journalists who have been detained or sentenced for doing their job.
We call on the international community to put pressure on the junta to respect human rights and restore democracy in Myanmar.
As a partner organization of the Press Freedom Monitoring in Southeast Asia (PFMSea), Prachatai news agency is joining the consortium's calls for an immediate and unconditional release of all journalists who have been detained or imprisoned in Myanmar for doing their job. #JournalismIsNotACrime #MyanmarCoup #SaveMyanmarJournalists