The Office of the Commander-in-Chief has released a statement saying the military detained seven men, including two journalists from DVB and a third from another former exile media outlet, for alleged ties to the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), which held a drug-burning ceremony on Monday to commemorate International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.
According to a military investigation, the detainees were suspected of communicating with the TNLA, an ethnic armed group based in northern Shan State that has engaged in hostilities with the Burma Army as recently as this weekend and is technically outlawed. The seven men were arrested near Myothit village in Namhsan Township and were to be transferred to the Lashio Township police station, where an investigation into their case is ongoing, according to the Office of the Commander-in-Chief.
The office’s statement said the seven men include senior DVB journalists Aye Nai and Pyae Bone Naing, and Thein Zaw, a.k.a. Lawi Weng, from The Irrawaddy news outlet. They were detained Monday while returning from TNLA territory.
Aung Hla Tun, vice chairman of the Myanmar Press Council, said the council had no additional information about the incident and would refrain from further comment until more was known.
“We were upset when we heard about that. We cannot comment any further at this time,” he said.
The Irrawaddy’s English editor, Kyaw Zwa Moe, also declined to comment, saying the organisation was in the process of discussing the situation internally.
Aye Chan Naing, editor-in-chief of DVB, said the journalists had travelled to TNLA territory to cover the drug-burning ceremony on Monday. He defended their presence there, saying they were merely doing their jobs as members of the press reporting on a newsworthy event.