Today marks 150 days, 5 months, since Aung Marm Oo, Chief Editor of Development Media Group went into hiding following charges under the Unlawful Association Act and receiving death threats.
Burma Campaign UK calls on the government of Burma to immediately drop all charges against Aung Marm Oo and Development Media Group.
Journalists at the Development Media Group have been interrogated by Special Branch police and Aung Marm Oo’s family members have also been questioned.
The Unlawful Associations Act is frequently used by the military to arrest and jail journalists and activists. It effectively allows the military and police to use any contact with a member of an ethnic armed organisation to be considered as providing assistance or promotion or being a member of that organisation.
As the military has stepped up its operations against the Arakan Army in Rakhine State, it has been deliberately targeting civilians, with civilians being killed, tortured, arrested and displaced. Human rights violations by the military against the local ethnic Rakhine population and others fit the legal criteria of crimes against humanity and war crimes.
The military and government of Burma have made it increasingly difficult for media to report on what is taking place in the State. The government of Burma should immediately take the following steps in order to protect and promote human rights, including media freedom:
- Grant licences for Development Media Group and its publications, and allow it to operate freely.
- Lift the internet access ban, which has now been in place for more than 100 days.
- Allow the United Nations and domestic and international agencies unrestricted access to all areas of Rakhine State and Chin State to assist all IDPs and villagers in need of assistance.
- Allow United Nations and other independent human rights organisation unrestricted access to all areas of Rakhine State and Chin State to be able to document and monitor what is taking place on the ground.
“The government of Burma is not respecting human rights, not respecting media freedom and not respecting international humanitarian law,” said Mark Farmaner, Director of Burma Campaign UK. “Aung Marm Oo is a journalist who should be free to go about his work, not facing persecution because the government and military want to cover up human rights violations.”