12/15/2021, 12.59
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First journalist dies in Yangon prison since the coup

Soe Naing was documenting a peaceful protest when he was arrested. The military is using interrogation centres as places of torture. More than 50 journalists remain in prison.

Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Soe Naing is the first journalist to die in prison following Myanmar’s military coup.

The freelance photographer was arrested last Friday, 10 December, Human Rights Day.  That day he was in the country's former capital to document the "silent strike", a peaceful protest staged nationwide by junta opponents.

Local residents had shut down their businesses and stayed away from the city’s streets, usually teeming with visitors and pilgrims.

This was considered a safer method of protest against the military who have tried to rule the country by force and repression since 1 February after overthrowing the previous civilian government.

Following the generals' takeover, around a hundred journalists have been jailed; according to Reporters Without Borders at least 53 are still in prison.

This week alone, the authorities sentenced three journalists in Shan State to three years in prison for allegedly spreading misinformation

Although government censorship was in place even before the military coup, under the government of Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy (NLD), media operating in exile had returned to the country and could work freely.

After his arrest, Soe Naing was sent to an interrogation centre in Botahtaung Township for questioning.

A source told independent newspaper Irrawaddy that the reporter was in good health before he was detained.

According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, as of October, more than 130 people – mostly activists and former NLD members – have died in military custody.

A recent investigation by the Associated Press, the country’s military are increasingly using detention centres as places of torture.

The Myanmar Accountability Project recently filed a lawsuit with the International Criminal Court accusing Min Aung Hlaing, the junta’s leading general, of crimes against humanity.

The organisation called on the tribunal based in The Hague to open an investigation “into the widespread and systematic use of torture” as part of the violent crackdown against the protest movement in Myanmar.

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