Junta convicts former chief correspondent of Mandalay-based news outlet on terrorism charge

April 6th, 2022  •  Author:   Ko Win Naing Oo (Sintgaing Township)  •  3 minute read
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Win Naing Oo, former chief correspondent of Channel Mandalay (Supplied)  

The journalist, who was initially charged with incitement, was once due to be granted amnesty before he was sentenced to five years in prison for terrorism

By Myanmar Now

The former chief correspondent of news organisation Channel Mandalay was sentenced to five years in prison on Tuesday for violating Section 52a of the Counterterrorism Law, according to a lawyer familiar with the case.

Win Naing Oo was sentenced in a junta court inside Obo Prison, the lawyer said.

Three other men—Min Thwe, Kyaw Oo and Zaw Min Oo—were also charged and convicted in the terrorism case. The military has not released any information on Win Naing Oo’s arrest, the case against him, or the connection between him and the other co-defendants.

Kyaw Oo and Zaw Min Oo were additionally charged with incitement under Section 505a of the Penal Code, and Kyaw Oo was accused of violating Section 19f of the Arms Act.

“Min Thwe is going to prison for five years, Zaw Min Oo for eight years, and Kyaw Oo for 10 years,” the lawyer explained, adding that time already served would be deducted from their sentences.

Win Naing Oo, 35, as well as his wife Thu Thu, and a 40-year-old man who was visiting them, were arrested at a mango farm in Mandalay’s Sintgaing Township on August 31. After one week, his wife was released, according to a family friend.

“The guest that was visiting their farm was wanted by the military and they found him there, so they got arrested as well,” the woman told Myanmar Now.

Win Naing Oo stopped working in journalism after Myanmar’s February 1 military coup.

“He hasn’t done any journalism work during this time. I don’t know why he was arrested,” the friend told Myanmar Now.

Some 15 days after his arrest, Win Naing Oo was charged with incitement.

While his trial commenced in the Obo Prison court, he was included on a list of prisoners to be granted amnesty. However, before he could be released, the junta hit him with the terrorism charge on January 17, retracting the previous offer of release, according to the lawyer.

He was previously sued by the army in May 2019 for violating Section 66d of the Telecommunications Law after his Channel Mandalay reported that the military had seized land near Pyin Oo Lwin.

Many of the journalists detained since last year’s coup have been charged by the junta with violating Section 505a, rather than terrorism charges. Pyae Phyo Aung, associate editor of the Sagaing Region-based Zayar Times, and journalist D Myat Nyein, also known as Myint Myat Aung, were sentenced to two years prison for incitement in January. However, D Myat Nyein continues to face the same charge as Win Naing Oo—of violating Section 52a of the Counterterrorism Law.

The military council also issued arrest warrants for other journalists from Zayar Times, namely, Nyein Zaw Lin and Wunna Aung, as well as editor-in-chief Saw Yan Paing.

Journalists across the country have been forced into hiding as the military continues its crackdown on the media following the coup in February last year. The junta maintains that they have been acting in accordance with the law, and deny that journalists are being targeted for arrest.

More than 130 journalists have been detained since the coup, some 50 of whom remain in prison, according to the Detained Journalists Group, which has been compiling data on the arrest and detention of media workers.

Original Post: Myanmar Now