Three journalists from MDIF partners released from jail in Myanmar

3751Three reporters from two news businesses taking part in MDIF’s Myanmar Media Program were released on bail on 1 September after spending more than two months in jail, following the military’s decision to withdraw its case against them.

The military also announced that it had dropped cases against The Voice Daily’s chief editor Kyaw Min Swe charged under Article 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law, satirist Ko Ko Maung, who was charged under a defamation law, and Eleven Media’s chief editor Ko Wai Phyo.

Democratic Voice of Burma reporters Aye Nai and Pyae Phone Naing, and Lawi Weng of The Irrawaddy magazine (photo c/o DVB) were arrested on 26 June by the military in northern Shan State after reporting on a drugs-burning ceremony in an area controlled by the Ta’ang National Liberation Army. They were charged under the colonial-era Unlawful Association Act for communicating with a group “currently opposing the country’s rule of law using arms”.

The journalists were remanded in custody on their arrest and  refused bail at several hearings by Hsipaw Township Court. The charges carried sentences of up to three years in jail. The case received widespread international condemnation.

The military’s decision also ends the ordeal of Kyaw Min Swe, Chief Editor of The Voice Daily, another MMP partner, and satirist Ko Ko Maung, who were being prosecuted with offences relating to an article satirizing the military’s role in efforts to reach a peace agreement with rebellious minority groups. Kyaw Min Swe was held for two months before being released on bail on 4 August.

Charges have also been withdrawn against Eleven Media’s chief editor Ko Wai Phyo, who was accused of criminal defamation.