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Burma 3 October 2007

At least five journalists arrested in Rangoon

Tokyo Shimbun’s Burmese correspondent is released

Reporters Without Borders and the Burma Media Association welcome the release today of Min Zaw, 56, the Burmese correspondent of the Japanese daily Tokyo Shimbun. He was held for six days. His wife, Associated Press correspondent Aye Aye Win, said he was questioned about the visit that Tokyo Shimbun’s Thailand correspondent, Koji Hirata, made to Burma. Hirata arrived on 24 September to cover the pro-democracy demonstrations and, according to the Associated Press, left on the night of 26 September after an official came to his hotel room and asked him to leave. Soon after he arrived home today, Min Zaw was taken by his family to hospital, Aye Aye Win said. He is due to be operated soon for a diabetic ulcer.


Reporters Without Borders and the Burma Media Association call for the immediate release of Min Zaw, the Burmese correspondent of the Japanese daily Tokyo Shimbun, and four young Burmese journalists, who are apparently being held incommunicado by the security forces. Their arrests bring the number of journalists detained in Burma to 10. At least a thousand people have been arrested since demonstrations began a month ago.

"One reporter killed, six others arrested and about 10 injured or harassed - the toll from the media’s attempts to cover the pro-democracy demonstrations mounts by the day," the two organisations said. "The international community most do something to stop the repression and must demand the unconditional release of the detained civilians."

The Japanese deputy minister who is due to arrive in Burma to investigate the murder of Japanese video reporter Kenji Nagai must also intervene with the authorities to get Min Zaw released as soon as possible, Reporters Without Borders and the BMA added.

Min Zaw, 56, was arrested at his Rangoon home on 28 September. The Associated Press reported that the authorities confiscated his mobile phone but let him take his medicine for diabetes and high blood pressure with him to prison. His family said all he did was cover the pro-democracy demonstrations. According to the AP, he is the son-in-law of leading journalist Sein Win, who is the correspondent of the Japanese agency Kyodo and a former AP reporter.

The Foreign Correspondents Club of Myanmar, of which Min Zaw is a member, yesterday called for his release in a letter to the authorities. Several other correspondents of foreign news media, including Reuters and Agence France-Presse, have been physically attacked or prevented from working since August 19th.

The news website Irrawaddy reported that three other Burmese journalists - Kyaw Zeya Tun, 23, who works for the newspaper The Voice, Nay Lin Aung, 20, who works for the weekly 7 Day News, and an as yet unidentified female journalist employed by Weekly Eleven News - have been missing for several days. It is believed they were arrested when the military dispersed demonstrations.

A colleague of Kyaw Zeya Tun confirmed to Reporters Without Borders and the BMA that he has disappeared.

Win Ko Ko Latt, journalist on the Weekly Eleven News, has also been missing since Thursday, 27 September. The weekly’s editor said that Win Ko Ko Latt, aged 27, was covering a demonstration in front of High School N°3 in Mingalataungnyunt, Rangoon, when the security forces opened fire on the demonstrators. His name appeared on a list of the dead at the Rangoon general hospital. He was carrying a camera when he disappeared. One Burmese journalist said the security forces were looking for people carrying cameras around the Sule pagoda in the centre of Rangoon. The same source said that several other people carrying cameras were arrested.

According to Burmese human rights organisations, at least a thousand people have been arrested since 19 August, the date of the first demonstration.

Reporters Without Borders and the BMA have learned from local sources that military censorship department, known as the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division, is harassing editors to get them to bring out issues of their newspapers and magazines containing propaganda articles. Most privately-owned Burmese publication have not appeared or have been closed since the start of the crackdown.

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