Journalists in Burma believe their government is failing to defend media freedom despite the transition from harsh military rule to the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, according to a survey published to mark World Press Freedom Day.
Police have decided to withdraw criminal charges filed against three journalists and their driver under Burma’s Export and Import Law and Immigration Act after the foursome were detained in October for attempting to fly a drone over the parliamentary complex in Naypyidaw.
The military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) has injected itself into the debate over two Reuters journalists who were detained last week, with a party official saying they should be released if not guilty of wrongdoing.
One week since they went missing, two Reuters reporters detained by Burmese authorities are being treated well and in good health, according to a senior government spokesman, who nonetheless declined to provide information on where the two men are being held.
A group of Burmese journalists said they would begin wearing black T-shirts on Saturday in protest at the detention of two Reuters reporters accused of violating the country’s Official Secrets Act, as pressure builds on Burma to release the pair.
Three journalists — two of them foreign — and their driver remain imprisoned in Naypyidaw after their second hearing on Thursday in a case that some are billing as the latest test for press freedom in Burma.
Burmese police said on Saturday they were preparing to charge journalists working for Turkey’s state broadcaster TRT, their local interpreter and driver for bringing a drone into the country without permission.
In a surprise Friday announcement, the Tatmadaw said that it will be dropping charges it had brought against six journalists, including a high-profile “unlawful association” case it had brought against two reporters from DVB and one from The Irrawaddy news outlet.
Bail was denied for a second time on Friday at the fourth hearing in the case of three journalists and three other defendants facing charges at a court in Shan State under Burma’s Unlawful Associations Act.