Monitoring press freedom and international affairs from Mid-Missouri Public Radio and the Missouri School of Journalism

Myanmar reporter sentenced to one year in prison for trespassing

18 April 2014

A video journalist in Myanmar has been sentenced to a year in prison for trespassing and obstructing a civil servant while covering a story on education.

The Democratic Voice of Burma’s Zaw Pe, also known as Thura Thet Tin, was sentenced for an incident in 2012 that occurred while reporting about a Japanese-financed scholarship program in the central district of Magwe, according to DVB.

Before his arrest, he had been interviewing students and filming inside an education department office, said Khin Maung Soe, a DVB spokesman, according to the AP.

"DVB is confident that reporter Zaw Pe was fulfilling his responsibility as a news reporter to inquire about a scholarship program at the Magwe Township Education Department, which was in the public interest,” a statement from DVB said, according to the news outlet’s website. “And therefore [we] completely denounce his sentencing.”

Ze Paw also asked an education official several questions, leading to the charge for “keeping a civil servant from carrying out his duties,” the AP reported.

Also sentenced April 7 was Win Myint Hlaing, the father of a student, who was with Zaw Pe at the education department, according to Agence France-Presse.

"They went into the educational office with a simple intention,” said lawyer Thein Tun, as quoted by AFP. “The student's father went there because he wanted to know more information (about the program) and Zaw Pe went in to report back to the people.”

Both men will appeal their sentences, Thein Tun said.

Zaw Pe has been imprisoned before. While he was doing a story about water coverage in 2010, he was given a three-year sentence, but he was released in 2012, according to the AP.

In Reporters Without Borders’ 2014 World Press Freedom Index, Myanmar ranked No. 145 of 180 countries.

The sentence comes amid fears of backsliding on press freedoms since a civilian government replaced the Myanmar’s military junta in 2011.

In February, four journalists and the chief executive of the Unity Weekly News were sentenced to up to 14 years in prison “for violating the country’s state secrets act” after a story was published about an alleged chemical weapons factory in the country, the AP reported.


Monitoring press freedom and international affairs from Mid-Missouri Public Radio and the Missouri School of Journalism.
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