Authorities Target Journalist in Hpakant

A freelance journalist who reported for Kachin News Group and Kachin Wave was arrested while covering a protest in Hpakant, Kachin State, where he is based.

On April 9, Burma Army arrested Ko Naung Yoe at the Pin Tin Bridge, connecting Lon Khing and Hpakant.

“They arrest reporters because they want to stop the news from getting out. There aren’t many journalists in the Hpakant area,” said a local man. Authorities shouldn’t be targeting them; they should be free to gather information to report the news, he said.

Ko Naung Yoe is charged with violating Article 505/a of Burma’s Penal Code, modified in mid-February to target protesters and the Civil Disobedience Movement but now used against journalists to attack freedom of the press. If convicted, he will be sentenced to 3 years in jail.

In Kachin State, authorities have also leveled charges against Ma Chan Bu, with The 74 Media and Ko La Raw, with Kachin Wave. Both of them are based in Myitkyina. According to eyewitnesses, armed forces beat up the reporters before arresting them at a protest they were covering in the Kachin State capital. In Bhamo, freelance reporter Joe Phyu was arrested.

In February, there were six journalists arrested in Myitkyina. They were freed after the Kachin Peace-talk Creation Group negotiated with authorities for their release.

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