EU Lawmakers Condemn Myanmar’s Crackdown on Media Freedom

European lawmakers on Thursday condemned the repression of media freedom in military-run Myanmar and called for the release of “all unjustly detained journalists”.

Since the military took power in February last year, it has forced at least 12 media outlets to shut down and arrested some 142 journalists, 57 of whom remain in detention.

Most of the people still detained are accused of inciting fear, spreading false news or agitating a government employee.

In its resolution adopted by show of hands, the European Parliament cited the cases of independent BBC producer Htet Htet Khine; Sithu Aung Myint, Frontier Myanmar columnist and Voice of America contributor; and freelance Nyein Nyein Aye.

“Strongly condemning the violent and illegitimate government of the military junta in Myanmar, parliamentarians urge him to drop all politically motivated charges against members of the press and media workers and unconditionally release all unjustly detained journalists,” the European Parliament said.

“They also call on the junta to immediately end its abuses, including arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture, sexual violence and other ill-treatment, and unfair trials of media workers.

According to Reporters Without Borders, Nyein Nyein Aye was sentenced to three years in prison in forced labor in July for “sowing fear, spreading false news and inciting crimes against a government employee”.

Htet Htet Khine was sentenced on September 15 to three years of forced labor. On September 27, a court sentenced her to a further three years, with a reduction in the time granted. He has been in detention since August 2021.

“We remain concerned about his safety and well-being during his detention and call for the release of Htet Htet Khine and other media professionals who have been wrongfully detained in Myanmar,” said Caroline Nursey, chief executive of BBC Media. Action.

Sithu Aung Myint was arrested in August 2021 along with Htet Htet Khine.

Some of the closed media continued to operate unlicensed, posting online as their staff members avoided arrest. Others operate from exile.

The takeover of military power led to mass public protests to which the military and police responded with lethal force, sparking armed resistance and an escalation of violence that led some military experts to call the UN a war civil.

According to detailed lists from the Political Prisoners Assistance Association, a control group based in Thailand, 2,336 civilians died during the repression of opponents by the military government and at least 15,757 people were arrested.

European lawmakers have also called for the restoration of civilian rule and the “unconditional release” of former Myanmar president Win Myint and former leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

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