A Yangon court has sentenced journalist Htet Htet Khine to three years in prison under incitement charges, as disturbing crackdowns on press freedom continue under Myanmar’s military regime. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns the court’s decision and calls on the junta to protect the rights of journalists and media workers in Myanmar.
Htet Htet Khine, a former BBC television presenter, was sentenced to three years in prison on September 15, after she was convicted of incitement under Section 505(a) of the Myanmar Penal Code for allegedly disseminating ‘false information designed to foster public animosity towards the military government’.
From 2016 until 2020, Khine presented the BBC’s Khan Sar Kyi (Feel It) program, which covered the devastating impacts of prolonged conflict in Myanmar.
Htet Htet Khine and fellow journalist Sithu Aung Myint were arrested by the military junta in Yangon in August 2021. Khine was initially charged under Section 17(1) of the Unlawful Associations Act for working with an outlawed radio station and sheltering Myint from police.
Following her sentencing, Khine’s family members said they feared for her safety and reiterated that the charges against her were unlawful. In a statement, BBC Media Action also expressed concern for Khine’s safety and said that the sentence ran “counter to basic principles of human rights and freedom of expression.”
Since the military coup in February 2021, at least 120 journalists have been detained, according to Reporting ASEAN. Last month, a freelance photographer was arrested by junta troops and former photojournalist Ko Zaw Zaw was sentenced to three years in prison. On July 30, Aye Kyaw, a photographer and activist known for covering anti-junta protests, died in police custody.
The IFJ said: “The unlawful charges against Htet Htet Khine are yet another blatant attempt to silence critical voices and stifle press freedom in Myanmar. The IFJ urges Myanmar’s military to immediately release Khine and respect the right of all journalists to report without fear of persecution.”