Washington, D.C., February 28, 2021 — In response to Myanmar security forces’ detentions of at least 10 members of the press, including Associated Press journalist Thein Zaw, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement:
“Myanmar authorities must immediately release all media workers who have been detained merely for covering the news, including journalist Thein Zaw of The Associated Press; we urge authorities to refrain from lodging criminal charges against any of them,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “Journalists have a right to cover events of public importance in Myanmar and they should not face harassment or arrest for doing their jobs.”
Since yesterday, security forces in Yangon, Monywa, Chin State, and other regions have arrested hundreds of people demonstrating against the country’s military junta, which took power earlier this month, according to reports by the local outlets The Irrawaddy and Myanmar Now.
Police detained Thein Zaw yesterday morning while he was covering a protest in Yangon, according to a report by his employer, stating that he is likely detained at the city’s Insein Prison. Myanmar Now wrote that one of its reporters had also been arrested, and The Irrawaddy wrote that at least 10 journalists had been arrested as of yesterday evening, including from the outlets 7 Day News, the Monywa Gazette, and the Hakha Times. CPJ could not immediately confirm those journalists’ identities or current status.
Ian Phillips, vice president for international news at The Associated Press, called for Thein Zaw’s immediate release, saying, “Independent journalists must be allowed to freely and safely report the news without fear of retribution. AP decries in the strongest terms the arbitrary detention of Thein Zaw.”