Bangkok, January 21 (CPJ/OurVoice) – Myanmar authorities must immediately release the three recently arrested employees of the Dawei Watch news website and cease detaining members of the press, the Committee to Protect Journalists said on Thursday.
During the night of January 18 to 19, authorities arrested Dawei Watch reporters Ko Zaw and Ma Moe Myint and web designer Ko Thar Gyi at their homes in Dawei, the capital of the southern Tanintharyi region, according to news reports. Those reports said that Ko Zaw was seen being taken from his home in handcuffs.
A Dawei Watch representative quoted by The Irrawaddy said they were not aware of why the three employees were detained or where they were being held.
Authorities also raided Dawei Watch’s office and seized documents and other items, reports said.
“Myanmar authorities must account for Dawei Watch employees Ko Zaw, Ma Moe Myint, and Ko Thar Gyi, drop any charges against them, and release them immediately,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “Myanmar’s junta must stop harassing, jailing, and killing journalists.”
Dawei Watch, which was established in 2012, covers news in southern Myanmar including the area’s recent anti-coup protests, according to those news reports and CPJ’s review of the outlet’s website and Facebook page, which has about 380,000 followers. CPJ emailed the outlet requesting further information on its employees’ detention, but did not immediately receive any reply.
Myanmar’s Ministry of Information did not reply to CPJ’s emailed request for comment.
CPJ’s latest prison census, published in December, ranked Myanmar as the world’s second worst jailer of journalists, trailing only China. At least three journalists have been killed by Myanmar authorities since the military seized power on February 1, 2021, according to CPJ documentation and research.