Bangkok, October 25, 2021 – Myanmar’s military junta should immediately follow up its recent release of at least 15 jailed journalists by freeing all those still wrongfully held in detention, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
On October 18, the country’s military government announced the release of over 5,600 prisoners in an amnesty on humanitarian grounds, according to news reports. At least 15 journalists were subsequently freed, according to local news reports and CPJ’s communication with editors and executives at their respective news organizations.
“Myanmar’s release of at least 15 journalists while leaving over 20 others to languish behind bars is a cynical attempt to alleviate rising international pressure against its repression,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “Partial measures simply aren’t good enough: Myanmar’s junta must free all of the journalists it is holding wrongfully in detention.”
A CPJ special report in July documented the situation of journalists jailed in the wake of the military’s democracy-suspending February 1 coup, and found that at least 32 journalists were imprisoned due to their work as of July 1.
Many were held on charges under Article 505(a) of the penal code, a broad and vaguely worded provision that penalizes incitement and the spreading of “false news” with maximum three-year prison penalties, according to CPJ research; four of those recently released had been sentenced to prison terms under the provision.
The journalists, who were freed October 18 and 19, included:
CPJ emailed Myanmar’s Ministry of Information for comment, but did not receive an immediate response.
In an open letter in April, CPJ called on coup maker Senior General Min Aung Hlaing to release all of the journalists jailed by his military regime.