Kachin Journalists Freed From Myitkyina Prison

By Network Media Group
Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Five journalists were released from the capital of Kachin State 19 October as part of a group amnesty that saw the Burmese junta freeing over 5,000 people from jails across the country in parallel with the Thadingyut festival.

“Myo Myat Pan, Aje and Christopher were released today—all our three journalists were freed,” Hseng Mai, the chief editor of Myitkyina News Journal told NMG on Tuesday.

She was concerned that they wouldn’t be let out of jail, where they have been for months, because their names weren’t on the amnesty list until Monday. “I received their information when they were about to be released from prison. After being detained for 6 months and four days, all five journalists from Kachin State have been released from prison today.”

The move came after a televised address by Sr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing, the army chief and head of the ruling State Administration Council (SAC), who is responsible for the February 1 coup.

Chan Bu of The 74 media and La Raw of Kachinwaves were released from prison on the same day.

La Raw was arrested for covering a protest, the Kachinwaves editor told KMG. ”He did not do anything wrong … I feel sorry for him. I am really happy that the five journalists have been released. I want the junta to free the rest of the journalists, political leaders and other people” who remain behind bars.

According to advocacy group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, SAC has arrested, charged or sentenced 7,190 people since taking power from the democratic government. The regime has sentenced 317 people and 1,181 have been killed.

”We do not need to thank them for releasing the journalists because they should never have been arrested in the first place,” Hseng Mai said. ”How will they be compensated for being held for six months, even though they were innocent?”

On 29 March, La Raw and Chan Bun were arrested after armed forces attacked protesters in Rampu ward, Myitkyina. Myo Myat Pan was detained in her home on 14 April and Aje and Christopher were arrested at their homes on 23 April. SAC charged all five journalists with incitement under Article 505 (a).

The amnesty for the detainees came after the unprecedented decision by the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to bar Min Aung Hlaing from attending a summit later this month because of the regime’s failure to comply with a five-point agreement signed in April in which it pledged to engage in dialogue and de-escalation to end violence in the country. The 10-member bloc said it will accept a non-political representative from Burma.