Myanmar media chiefs detained over defamation


Media monitors say Myanmar’s restrictive media laws raise concerns about press freedom under the government of Aung San Suu Kyi, who is well-known for advocating for democracy and human rights in the region. Video: Radio Free Asia

The chief-executive and the chief-editor of Myanmar’s largest daily newspaper have been detained after a politician accused them of defamation in an article which, was then posted on social media.

Reuters reported, Than Htut Aung, chief-executive of Eleven Media Group, and the newspaper’s chief-editor, Wai Phyo, were arrested on Friday last week.

The article in question made reference to allegations of government corruption.

The two journalists are expected to be in jail for two-weeks while police investigate.

Media have reported the pair have been charged under Myanmar’s controversial telecommunication law.

There next court hearing is due on November 25, 2016.

Amnesty International released a statement which called for the immediate release of the two editors.

‘Serious concerns’

“Arresting and detaining these two men raises serious concerns about the National League for Democracy-led government’s commitment to freedom of expression,” said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

“While the new government has made some attempts to amend long-standing repressive laws that target activists and media workers, this case shows that those attempts do not go far enough.”

Djamin said journalists play an important role of holding governments to account and repressive laws could led to the self-censorship of journalists.

Increased concerns have been raised over media freedom in Myanmar after Fiona MacGregor, an investigative editor was fired last month at the Myanmar Times. She was accused of being biased against the government after she reported on allegations that claimed security forces raped around 30 ethnic women.

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