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A local journalist from Kachin State who reported on illegal logging and cattle-rustling activities in the region has received death threats and faces being sued by Burma’s security forces.
Bhamo-based correspondent Oo Oo Nyein (also known as Nyein Chan Aye) of Hot News weekly journal said he was first sued for defamation by a local militia in 2015 over his reports on cattle rustling.
Speaking at a press conference in Rangoon on Saturday organised by the Myanmar Journalists Network, he said he was again sued when the Burmese military filed a lawsuit against him under the Media Law for an article he had written detailing the military’s handling of timber seized from an illegal logging operation. Last year, he said, he was again charged, this time by the Burmese police under the Unlawful Association Act.
“Between 2014 and 2016, I reported almost weekly on cattle-rustling activities in the area,” said Oo Oo Nyein. “In 2015, I was sued by Officer Naw Seng of the local Lawayang militia under Penal Code Article 500 – for defamation. The case has been pending for over a year and half, but no investigation has yet been launched.”
He added: “Some time later, the Burmese military busted an illegal logging ring, and I wrote a report concerning their handling of the timber and equipment that was seized. I was sued by the army battalion’s commander under Article 25 of the Media Law, and I’m currently standing trial for that.”
Oo Oo Nyein also claims that a bullet was sent to his home – a clear death threat – in 2013 and also in July 2016. He said the house of his co-defendant in the Unlawful Association case was also targeted in a bomb attack.
“In 2013, an M20 [cannon calibre projectile] was sent to my home as a threat,” he said. “In July 2016, the house of Ko Zaw Min Lay, my co-defendant in the Article 17 case, was bombed. We both filed police reports about the incidents but no culprits were ever found.”
Oo Oo Nyein said that a local Lower House MP, who was a source in one of his articles, also received a bomb threat. He said he informed the Myanmar Press Council about the threats, but the press body said it would be unable to provide assistance as the matter was out of its jurisdiction.
Myanmar Journalist Network general secretary Zeya Hlaing said his association had organised Saturday’s press conference to bring public and media attention to Oo Oo Nyein’s case.
“He has personally received death threats and has seen his colleague’s house bombed. In addition, he has been charged under the Unlawful Association Act, so is now seeking assistance from press bodies in Rangoon,” said Zeya Hlaing.