Release Journalists Imprisoned Over Article

Hluttaw-Naypyidaw

Target: U Thein Sein, President of Myanmar

Goal: Release several journalists facing prison time over the content of a news article

Five journalists in Myanmar have been arrested and charged with crimes in relation to a published article that mistakenly stated that Aung San Suu Kyi had been elected as an interim government leader. They face prison time simply for exercising their right to a free press. Sign the petition and demand that the imprisoned journalists be freed.

Journalist Kyaw Zaw Hein published an article that falsely reported that opposition leader and human rights activist Aung San Suu Kyi had been installed as the leader of an interim government along with several other ethnic leaders. The article was based off of false reports, but that did not stop police from arresting Kyaw Zaw Hein along with Ko Win Tin and Thura Aung, respectively the managing editor and editor-in-chief of Kyaw Zaw Hein’s employer, the Bi Midday Sun. Police later also arrested Yin Min Htun, the newspaper’s officer-in-charge; its publisher, Kyaw Min Khaing; executive editor Ye Min Aung; and Kyaw Min Khaing’s wife, Ei Ei San. The latter two were released due to a lack of evidence, but the case against the other five journalists is proceeding.

The journalists are charged under section 505(b) of Myanmar’s Penal Code, which forbids the dissemination of information intended to cause public panic or disorder, Amnesty International reports. Four of the five have exchanged their lawyer, human rights activist U Robert Sann Aung, for another after pressure from officials, prompting concerns that the men will not receive a fair trial.

Universal human rights standards everywhere guarantee freedom of speech and press, as well as the right to select one’s own legal representation. So far, Kyaw Zaw Hein, Ko Win Tin, Thura Aung, Yin Min Htun, and Kyaw Min Khaing have been mistreated and falsely imprisoned. Sign the petition stressing the fact that these men are prisoners of conscience and demanding their release.

PETITION LETTER:

Your Excellency,

I am writing to urge the immediate release of Kyaw Zaw Hein, Ko Win Tin, Thura Aung, Yin Min Htun, and Kyaw Min Khaing. These men have done nothing more than exercise their right to a free press, and yet they have been imprisoned and denied access to a lawyer of their choosing. They are prisoners of conscience and must therefore be released immediately and unconditionally.

The men are all charged under section 505(b) of the Penal Code, which forbids the publication or circulation of “information which may cause public fear or alarm, and which may incite people to commit offenses ‘against the State or against the public tranquility,'” Amnesty International reports. The article in question was the publication of a mistaken report that Aung San Suu Kyi had been installed as an interim government leader.

Freedom of the press is an internationally-recognized human right, as is the right to employ a lawyer of one’s own choosing upon arrest. Four of the five journalists charged in relation to the article were recently pressured to exchange their lawyer, human rights activist U Robert Sann Aung, for different legal representation, constituting a violation of their right to a lawyer of their own choice.

The case against these men has encompassed one human rights violation after another. I urge you to do the right thing in releasing all five men immediately and unconditionally.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Myat Moe Maung via Wikimedia Commons

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