At least six journalists were arrested Saturday while covering protests against a military coup. They are charged with violating a public order law and could be sentenced up to three years in prison.
An undated photo of Associated Press journalist Thein Zaw. The Myanmar military detained Zaw and a handful of other journalists Saturday while covering pro-democracy protests. He and five other journalists could face up to three years in prison.
At least eight journalists in Myanmar have been detained by authorities while covering protests against a coup that took place last month. Six of those journalists, including 32-year-old Associated Press reporter Thein Zaw, have been charged with violating a public order law.
The Myanmar military seized control of the country one month ago, detaining Aung San Suu Kyi and members of the National League for Democracy. Protesters have since taken to the streets, but have been met with violence and bloodshed from military forces. Zaw and a handful of other journalists were arrested Saturday morning in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, the AP reported.
The charges fall under a law against anyone who “causes fear among the public, knowingly spreads false news, or agitates directly or indirectly for a criminal offense against a government employee.” If found guilty, the journalists could be imprisoned for up to three years.
Crowds gather in Yangon, Myanmar, Tuesday to protest the military coup. Police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowds. Just two days earlier the military killed at least 18 people and wounded more than 30 after firing into the crowds with live ammunition.
Myanmar military forces warned protesters last week that pro-democracy demonstrations would be met with further violence, and over the weekend they detained more 1,000 people. On Sunday, authorities opened fire on protesters, killing at least 18 people and wounding more than 30, NPR has reported. Protesters have continued their demonstrations, despite volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets from military forces.
The Tatmadaw, the Myanmar military, took control of the country after members of its party lost in a November election, which it says was fraudulent.
The Tatmadaw installed Commander in Chief Min Aung Hlaing to rule the country until a new election is held next year, AP reported. The military has charged and jailed 75-year-old Suu Kyi, who won last November’s election.
Protesters and their supporters have called for help from the international community. There have been calls for an end to the violence and “statements of concern” from both the United States and the United Kingdom.