A young journalist is recovering in Loikaw Hospital after a shocking attempted kidnapping and assault on Friday.
Maw Oo Myar, a 23-year-old reporter for the Kantarawaddy Times, was traveling with a fellow journalist by motorbike from the state capital Loikaw to neighbouring Demoso Township on Friday evening. Maw Oo Myar has also produced a weekly Karenni-language news segment for DVB since mid-2015.
According to a statement released by the Kantarawaddy Times the following day, two men in a car cut the pair off, eventually dragging Maw Oo Myar into their vehicle after verbally threatening her. The getaway car was later involved in an accident in which Maw Oo Myar lost consciousness.
She was admitted first to Demoso Hospital for treatment, but is now under care at Loikaw Hospital.
The statement said that while she has regained consciousness, she remains on oxygen and is unable to eat, speak or move.
The Karenni news journal confirmed that a security detail has been assigned to the reporter while she receives treatment.
Burma News International (BNI), a network of ethnic media outlets, on Monday identified the alleged attackers as Kaung San and Sein Win. In a statement, BNI said, “These kinds of attack show the continuing vulnerability of journalists, especially women, outside the big urban centers in Burma.”
Speaking to DVB by phone, a Kantarawaddy Times assistant editor, Soe Soe Myar, said Maw Oo Myar’s condition is improving.
“The doctor said he has given her the necessary medical treatment. She is not in a critical state anymore. She just needs to be mentally strong now,” she said.
While it is still unclear whether the attack was connected to Maw Oo Myar’s reporting, female journalists in Burma often face threats to their physical safety in the line of duty. Zin Marlar Htay, a spokesperson for the Myanmar Women Journalists Society who writes under the pen name Green, said, “The government should ensure the safety of women journalists.”
“The security for women journalists in Myanmar is meagre. This doesn’t only apply to women journalists but women in general. In rural areas, there is a significant difficulty in transportation, which increases the risks women may face,” she told DVB on Tuesday.