Myanmar jails two journalists for ‘spreading false news’

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Reporters for Democratic Voice of Burma and Mizzima sentenced to two- year terms in military crackdown on media.

A court in military-ruled Myanmar has jailed two journalists under a colonial-era law that was recently revised to make spreading “false news” a crime, as part of a continuing crackdown on reporting in the troubled country.

A military court in southern Myeik on Wednesday sentenced Aung Kyaw of the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) and Zaw Zaw, a freelance reporter for Mizzima News, to two years in prison over their reporting of the anti-coup protests that have swept Myanmar since the generals under Min Aung Hlaing seized power on February 1, the two publications said.

Aung Kyaw, who live streamed his arrest, is the third DVB journalist to be jailed since the coup triggered a wave of protests and calls for the restoration of the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. The security forces have responded with force, and the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which has been tracking arrests and deaths says 841 people have killed in the violence.

The military has also cracked down on independent media, revoking the licences of a number of news organisations, including DVB and Mizzima, It has also restricted access to the internet and banned satellite television.

“The military junta is illegally detaining Aung Kyaw,” DVB said in a statement on Wednesday calling for his release.

“This is a clear violation of both national and international laws by the Burmese junta.”

Mizzima said Zaw Zaw was one of five of its staff detained since the coup and called for his release.

“Mizzima firmly believes that journalism and the right to freedom of expression is not a crime and that Mizzima and all independent Myanmar media outlets should be allowed to freely function in Myanmar,” it said in a statement on its website.

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