Myanmar police force will fire with live ammunition” during a protest against the military coup and to demand the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, February 8, 2021.
FILE – Policeman stands behind a banner reading “if this line is crossed, Myanmar police force will fire with live ammunition” during a protest against the military coup and to demand the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, February 8, 2021.
Eight months after Myanmar’s military coup, life for the country’s journalists is getting “harder and harder,” local reporters say.
From the moment it seized power and ousted the democratically elected government, the military has sought to control coverage.
Access to social media and the internet was blocked, at least five local media outlets had licenses revoked, and authorities detained dozens of journalists covering nationwide protests against the junta.
In the months that followed, media outlets have been forced to restructure their operations by working online or from self-imposed exile.
Win Zaw Naing, a journalist at the Yangon-based Red News Agency, says he has been stuck inside his house for seven months, having to work almost entirely online.
“It is almost impossible to report on the ground now. I did not leave the house and I did not see anyone. I do it online, I make phone calls,” he told VOA.
From February 1 to September 27 at least 102 journalists have been arrested and at least 48 are still in custody, according to the Detained Journalist Information Facebook group and Reporting ASEAN, an organization documenting the crackdown.
Most are held under Section 505(a) of the penal code, which criminalizes content deemed to cause fear or spread false news against the government. Those convicted face up to three years in prison.
Myanmar’s military has denied restricting journalists. Spokesman Major General Zaw Min Tun said in March that the military “respects and values media freedom.” In a statement last week about American journalist Danny Fenster, the spokesperson said, “As for journalists, if they do only journalist’s work, there is no reason to arrest them