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Myanmar junta arrests more journalists amid escalating crackdown on media

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Soldiers stand next to military vehicles as people gather to protest against the military coup, in Yangon, Myanmar, February 15, 2021. (Photo by Reuters)

Myanmar's military has detained at least three people working for an independent news portal as the junta's crackdown on independent media has been intensifying since last year's coup.

A newspaper editor told media outlets on Thursday that the military had held in custody three individuals who worked for Dawei Watch in southern Myanmar. 

"They are currently being held at a police station in Dawei and the reason for their arrest is still unknown," said the editor, who called for them to be released immediately.

Moe Myint, a 35-year-old journalist and mother-of-three, was detained on Tuesday in Dawei, a city in southern Myanmar. 

Another journalist, Ko Zaw, 38, and Thar Gyi, a 21-year-old web designer at the publication, were arrested on Wednesday,

The junta has previously said it respected the role of the media but would not allow reporting likely to cause public unrest.

The military has rescinded media licenses, imposed curbs on internet and satellite broadcasts and detained dozens of journalists since its Feb. 1 coup.

Reporting ASEAN, a Southeast Asia media advocacy group, said 115 journalists have been detained and 44 remained in detention and three have died since the coup. Some foreign journalists have also been detained.

Myanmar has been in chaos since the junta seized power in a coup on February 1 last year, ousting the then-de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi's elected government.

The military junta has used lethal force against unarmed civilians, which has drawn widespread backlash. The junta's brutal crackdown on dissent has left more than 1,400 people dead, according to activists cited by the UN.

News media has also been suppressed as the military aims to tighten control over the flow of information, restricting internet access and revoking the permits of local news outlets.

Myanmar ranked as the world's second worst jailer of journalists in a report published by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Several rights organizations have demanded the military junta should stop prosecuting journalists and end its assault on independent media.

Myanmar's military forces were also involved in a campaign of genocide against Muslim Rohingya that started in 2017.


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