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3 journalists from Myanmar arrested in Chiang Mai

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Police in Northern Thailand arrested 3 senior journalists who had fled Myanmar due to orders from the military junta to stop reporting, the director and editor of the news agency Democratic Voice of Burma said in an email to the Associated Press.

The journalists, along with 2 associates, were arrested yesterday in Chiang Mai for allegedly illegally entering Thailand. Police were doing a random search, the editor says.

Since the February military coup in Myanmar, ousting state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi who had won the election in a landslide, more than 750 people have been killed by security forces. The military takeover also led to a clash with ethnic armies who support the anti-coup movement, including the prominent armed wing of the Karen National Union. Around 2,000 Karen refugees have fled to Thailand’s Mae Hong Son province due to violence between the Karen troops and the state military.

The junta has attempted to silence independent news media by arresting dozens of journalists and by revoking licenses that had allowed agencies to report in Myanmar. The Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand, or FCCT, says more than 70 journalists have been arrested since February. The Associated Press says there are currently around 40 journalists in detention in Myanmar, including at least 2 that work for DVB.

Many of the journalists arrested by the military junta are being held for violating Myanmar’s Penal Code which prohibits comments that “cause fear,” spread “false news, agitates directly or indirectly a criminal offence against a Government employee.” The charge carries a punishment of up to 3 years in prison.

The editor of DVB is urging Thai authorities not to deport the detained journalists and activists, saying “their life will be in serious danger if they were to return.” Photos in Thai media shows what looks like a video production studio set up at a home.

“They have been covering the demonstrations in Burma until March 8 – the day the military authority revoked DVB’s TV license and banned DVB from doing any kind of media work.”

The FCCT also released a statement calling on Thai authorities to release the journalists and offer them protection in Thailand.

These 5 individuals would face certain arrest and persecution, if not worse, for their work and association with the DVB, and under no circumstances should they be deported back to Myanmar.

Rather, the DVB journalists and their associates should be released from detention, urgently offered protection, and granted the right to remain temporarily in Thailand.

SOURCE: Associated Press

 

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Local Thai journalist speaking fluent Thai and English. Tanutam studied in Khon Kaen before attending Bangkok’s Chulalongkhorn University.

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