World Association of News Publishers

Zaw Pe, Myanmar - Jailed since April, 2014

Zaw Pe, Myanmar - Jailed since April, 2014

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Day 9
Country: Myanmar
Journalist: Zaw Pe
Media: The Democratic Voice of Burma
Jailed since: April 7, 2014

Suggested Tweet:

#FreethePress calls on President Thein Sein to release journalist Zaw Pe and guarantee press freedom in #Myanmar

Zaw Pe, a video reporter with the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), was sentenced to one year in jail on April 7, 2014 for trespassing and disturbing a civil servant on duty, charges that stemmed from an education story the reporter pursued in August 2012.

Share our protest letter for Zaw Pe

Pe had visited the Magwe Division Education Department for an interview about a Japanese-funded scholarship programme. However, an educational officer pressed charges against the reporter as well as the father of a student, Win Myint Hlaing, who was present to inquire about the scholarships. Pe's lawyer Thein Tun slammed the verdict as "harsh" and said he would appeal.

As the journalist was being transferred to Thayet prison, Pe told DVB that “it is my job to interview, whether it's the government or a civil society organisation.” He added that his sentencing will stymie other journalists from pursuing government interviews, and will consequently “compromise the balance of news.”

“DVB is confident that reporter Zaw Pe (a.k.a. Thura Thet Tin) was fulfilling his responsibility as a news reporter to inquire about a scholarship programme at the Magwe Township Education Department, which was in the public interest,” DVB said in a statement. “We therefore completely denounce his sentencing.”

Several independent newspapers published black front pages with with the words "Journalism is not a crime" to protest the sentencing on Friday, April 10, the latest sign of faltering press conditions in Myanmar.

The sentencing of Zaw Pe raises questions about the country's democratic reform process after it emerged from fifty years of military rule. Under President Thein Sein journalists are enjoying new freedoms and the ban on private newspapers has been lifted, but Pe's case is reminiscent of previous oppression that long plagued Myanmar's media scene.

Several other journalists have been jailed on trumped up charges. In December 2013, Ma Khine, a reporter from Eleven Media Group, was sentenced to three months in jail for trespassing. Four staffers and the CEO of Unity Weekly Journal were charged in February of violating the Officials Secret Act after publishing a report on an alleged chemical weapons factory being built by the army in Magwe Division.

 Suggested Tweet:

#FreethePress calls on President Thein Sein to release journalist Zaw Pe and guarantee press freedom in #Myanmar






2014-04-12 10:38

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Andrew Heslop


2014-04-03 20:08