Ten days after seizing power in MyanmarThe generals issued their first order to journalists: Stop using the words “coup”, “regime” and “junta” to describe the government’s military takeover. Some reporters heeded Orwellian’s directive, and Junata adopted a new goal – crushing all free expression.
Since then, the regime has arrested at least 56 journalists, online news outlets known for hard-edged reporting and Mobile data crippled communication Service. Three photo journalists were shot and injured taking photographs of anti-coup demonstrations.
With pressure under professional journalists, many youth who have come of age in social media and information exchange over the course of a decade Myanmar Calling himself a civilian journalist and risking his life documenting the brutality of the army, he jumped into the fray. They take pictures and videos with their phones and share them online when they have access. This is a role so common that he is now known as “CJ”.
“They are targeting professional journalists, so our country needs more CJs,” said Ma Thuzar Mayat, one of the citizen journalists. “I know that at some point I can kill to take a video record of what is happening. But I will not back down. “
Ms Thujar Mayat, 21, noted that in 1988, when some people were able to document the protests The TatmadhavThe pro-democracy movement has been stamped out by massacring an estimated 3,000 people, as is known to the military. She said that she saw it as her duty to help capture the evidence of today’s violence, even though a soldier had already threatened her if he did not stop her.
The clear goal of the regime is to revert to the time when the military ruled the country, the media was firmly in its grip and only the wealthiest had access to cellphones and the Internet. But the new generation of youth who grew up with the Internet say that they are not giving up their freedom without any fight.
“What we’re seeing is an all-out attack on the centers of democracy and freedom,” said U Swe Win, the principal co-founder and editor of Myanmar Now, one of the banned outlets. “We are very worried that Myanmar will become North Korea. They will crush any form of gathering and sharing information. “
Tatmadov has a history of suppressing opposition. When it came under control in 1962, it ruled for nearly half a century before deciding to share power with elected civic leaders and open the country to the outside world.
In 2012, under a new quasi-civilian government, cheap cellphones began to flood. Facebook becomes the head of the online forum. A vibrant media sprouted online and overflowed with competing papers in newspapers.
Since the February 1 coup, protests have erupted almost daily – often with young people at the forefront – and there is a broad-based civil disobedience movement Brought the economy to a virtual halt. In retaliation, at least 536 people have been killed by soldiers and police.
On Wednesday at the United Nations, Myanmar’s special envoy Christine Schreiner Bergner warned that “a blood bath is imminent.” The government has arrested thousands including Country’s civil leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. On Thursday, one of his attorneys said he was charged with violating the Official Secrets Act, being included in the list of alleged offenses.
While the UN Security Council has not punished Myanmar’s military, it has spoken in negative terms about repression. In a statement released on Thursday evening, the council “expressed deep concern over the rapidly deteriorating situation and strongly condemned the use of violence against peaceful protesters and the deaths of hundreds of civilians, including women and the Shared.” Children“
Although the military uses state-owned media to avoid its propaganda and warnings, attacks on journalists have increased considerably in recent weeks, as arrests have taken place.
To avoid being targeted, reporters stop wearing helmets or vests with the word “PRESS” on them and try to mingle with protesters. Many keep a low profile for not getting the credit for their published work and for avoiding sleeping in their homes. Nevertheless, their professional-quality cameras can overcome them.
At the same time, soldiers and police regularly searched citizens’ phones for conflicting photos or videos.
“If you are arrested with a video clip, you can go to jail,” said U Mint Kyo, secretary of the Myanmar Press Council, an independent advocacy organization for the news media, leaving in February with most protests last state. Board.
At a recent news conference, a Janta spokesperson said that this was to avoid journalists dealing with what might be perceived as breaking the law.
“Only the actions of the journalist can guarantee that they will not be arrested,” said the spokesman, Brig. General Zaw Min Tun. “If their action violates the law, they will be arrested.” The three journalists who shot and injured say that they were targeted by the security forces.
24-year-old freelance journalist Ko Hate Mayot Thu was taking photos of protests in Kyoto, a city in southern Myanmar, on Saturday, when a soldier He got shot in the leg, she said. A video of his arrest, taken by a civilian journalist from a nearby building, shows soldiers beating him and forcing him along. Hope on her good feet They take him away.
That day, another photo-journalist, 36-year-old Yu Si Thu, was struck in his left hand as he was holding his camera in his face and was photographing soldiers in Mandla, the country’s second largest city. He said that he believed that the soldier who shot him was targeting his head.
“I had two cameras,” he said, “So it was clear that I am a photo journalist, even though I had no helmet or vest.”
“I am sure that the military junta is targeting journalists because they know that we are showing the world a reality on the ground and they want to stop us by arresting or killing us,” he said.
Of the 56 journalists arrested, half have been released, according to a group that is tracking the arrest. The liberators were journalists from The Associated Press and the BBC.
But 28 remain in custody, including at least 15 who face prison sentences of up to three years under an unusual law that prohibits the dissemination of information that allows military officers to disobey or fail in their duties Can motivate for
A reporter from Myanmar Now, 27-year-old Ma Kay Joan Noon, made his own arrest in late February as he ran from police in Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon. His video shows police firing in the air as protesters flee. His breathing sounds audible while catching the police and taking him away.
He is among those who have been charged under unclear and broad statute. He has been allowed to meet only once with his lawyer.
He said Myanmar’s editor, Mr. Swe Win, in 1998, was sentenced to seven years in prison for protesting. “All these court proceedings are being done only for formality.” “
With mobile communications blocked, Facebook banned and the Internet shut down at night, Myanmar’s mainstream media has come to rely on citizen journalists for video and news tips, Mr Myant Kyaw, former Press Council The secretary said.
One of them, Aung Aung Kaw, a 26-year-old, was taking videos by police in his neighborhood of Yangon when an officer saw him. The officer administered him the oath, Aimed and fired his rifle, video shows by Mr Aung Aung Qiew.
The bullet hit a wall in front of him.
“I know that it is very risky to record things like this and that I get shot or arrested,” he said. “But I believe I need to do this to keep a record of the evidence to sentence them.”
Rick Gladstone contributed reporting from New York.