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Two Burmese journalists were released from a prison in Pegu Division on Friday after being detained for three nights. Nine students were also let go.
Nyan Lin Tun of the Myanmar Post and Phyo Aung Myint of the weekly journal, Reporter, were released from Tharawaddy prison on Friday afternoon after they were arrested on Tuesday during a crackdown on student protests in Letpadan, some 15 kilometres north of Tharawaddy.
An initial response from the journalists indicated that they had been beaten either in prison or during arrest.
Condemnation of their detention was voiced by Shawn Crispin, the senior Southeast Asia representative for the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
“If journalists cannot cover newsworthy events without being beaten or arrested, then Myanmar [Burma]’s supposed media reforms have truly amounted to nothing,” he said.
“We call on Myanmar authorities to respect the civilian status of journalists and allow the media to cover the country’s growing number of anti-government demonstrations without fear of reprisal.”
One DVB video journalist, Nyan Gyi, sustained a minor injury when hit by a police baton in Letpadan on Tuesday. He required no medical treatment. An Irrawaddy reporter suffered harassment and physical threats during the melee.
In a December report, CPJ listed the Burmese government as the eighth most repressive regime for jailing reporters; with ten media workers listed behind bars at that time. Burma was surpassed only by China, Iran, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Egypt and Syria.
Meanwhile, a further nine students have reportedly been released late on Friday afternoon. The government previously announced that those who can be verified as “real” students will be handed over to their parents.
Seventeen students were released from Tharrawaddy prison on Wednesday, with more parents told toto collect their children from main police station in the town on Thursday, according to activists supporting those arrested. One of the listed students remains behind bars.
One-hundred and twenty seven students and supporters were arrested in the violence police crackdown on Tuesday.