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Bi Mon Te Nay Journalists Must Be Freed!

By Burma Campaign UK  •  October 30, 2014

Burma Campaign UK today called for the immediate and unconditional release of the Bi Mon Te Nay journalists. Bi Mon Te Nay Journal’s three journalists Kyaw Zaw Hein, Win Tin, Thura Aung, and owners Yin Min Htun and Kyaw Min Khaing were arrested in July, and were investigated by the Special Branch police in Burma.

The arrests came after they published an article citing an incorrect claim by the Myanmar Democratic Current Force (MDCF) that the people of Burma had appointed the opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and ethnic democracy forces as an interim government. The MDCF represents grassroots communities, and campaigns against land-grabbing and other human rights violations in Burma.

The article was nothing more than a mistake made by the journalists due to inaccurate claims. It wasn’t a threat, and nor did it alarm the public, as the military-back government claimed.

They were investigated by Special Branch police and charged under section 505 (b) of Burma’s penal code for “committing or inducing others to commit an offence against the State or against the public tranquility.” The journal was shut down after they were arrested.

On 16th October, Pabedan Township Court in Rangoon sentenced them to two years in prison. It was the maximum punishment under Section 505 (b). Section 505 (b) is one of the repressive laws which the military-backed government in Burma uses to jail activists and journalists. They are now serving their prison sentences in Insein Prison.

Burma Campaign UK is asking supporters to write to the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, asking him to visit Burma to investigate cases relating to violations of the right to freedom of expression.

The action can be taken here: http://action.burmacampaign.org.uk/bi-mon-te-nay-journalists-must-be-freed

The Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression is an independent expert appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to gather all relevant information, wherever it may occur, relating to violations of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

“The imprisonment of Bi Mon Te Nay’s journalists proves that the reform process is backsliding,” said Anna Roberts, Executive Director at Burma Campaign UK. “Journalists should have freedom to report without being constantly harassed and arrested and thrown into jail by Thein Sein’s government. Burma won’t be able to achieve genuine democracy without press freedom and free media.”

Media Contact:
Anna Roberts on 07950849529

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