Bangkok, June 17 (CPJ/OurVoice) — Myanmar’s military regime should reverse the ban imposed on the Ayeyarwaddy Times and stop harassing local media groups over their independent news coverage, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Friday.
On June 10, Myanmar military authorities revoked the Ayeyarwaddy Times’ media license for allegedly breaching Article 8 of the Publishing Act, which bans disseminating information that disrupts public peace and tranquility, according to Salai Thant Sin, the outlet’s editor-in-chief who communicated with CPJ by email, and a report by local independent media group Democratic Voice of Burma.
Since staging a coup on February 1, 2021, the junta has banned 14 news publications, the DVB report said. Salai Thant Sin told CPJ that military authorities have singled out his news website’s journalists since the coup, arresting reporter Aung Mya Than twice for his reporting.
“Myanmar’s military regime will stop at nothing to block, censor, and ban independent reporting about its junta government’s rule,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “Authorities should reverse their unjust ban on the Ayeyarwaddy Times, cease harassing its reporters, and let all independent media outlets work freely.”
Salai Thant Sin said his publication, which operates mainly from underground due to persistent threats to its reporters, would continue to publish despite the ban. As of Friday, June 16, the publication was still online and actively publishing.
Salai Thant Sin told CPJ that Ayeyarwaddy Times editor Myo Min Tun was recently released, after a court sentenced him in October 2022 to two years in prison under the penal code’s Article 505(a), a broad provision that criminalizes incitement and the dissemination of false news. Police and military authorities arrested the journalist at his home in Pathein on October 22, 2021.
Salai Thant Sin, who faces a warrant for his arrest and lives in exile, said authorities have questioned several other Ayeyarwaddy reporters, some of whom have stopped working as journalists due to personal safety concerns and fear of imprisonment.
CPJ’s email to Myanmar’s Ministry of Information did not receive a response. Myanmar was the world’s third-worst jailer of journalists, with at least 42 members of the press behind bars, at the time of CPJ’s December 1, 2022, prison census.