World, Asia - Pacific

Myanmar urged to drop charges against journalist

‘Vague’ provisions of Unlawful Associations Act pose a sustained threat to human rights defenders, says rights group

Riyaz ul Khaliq   | 22.05.2019
Myanmar urged to drop charges against journalist Caption: Aung Marm Oo is editor and executive director of the Rakhine-based Development Media Group (DMG)

ANKARA

A human rights group has called on Myanmar to drop charges against a senior journalist.

Fortify Rights, a Thailand-based rights group, said that the authorities in Buddhist-majority state should immediately drop charges against Aung Marm Oo, who is editor and executive director of the Development Media Group (DMG) which is based in Rakhine State.

The journalist is currently in hiding since early this month after a case was filed against him.

The group said that the journalist faces charges under the Unlawful Association Act “for his involvement in the Sittwe-based DMG”.

“DMG reports on human rights violations in Rakhine State and other parts of the country,” Fortify Rights said in a statement.

“This is part of a widespread and ongoing crackdown against basic rights and free expression in Myanmar,” said Matthew Smith, chief executive officer of Fortify Rights.

The group said that Special Branch of Myanmar Police filed charges against Aung Marm Oo at the Sittwe Myoma Police Station in Rakhine State on May 1.

The police summoned DMG reporters and questioned them about their coverage of human rights violations in Rakhine state, the statement said.

In a statement on May 8, the journalist had asked Myanmar Press Council (MPC) to “intervene to its full capacity”.

DMG was founded in 2012 and was based on the Thailand-Myanmar border before it moved to Sittwe and Yangon two years later.

“The vague and overly broad provisions of the Unlawful Associations Act pose a sustained threat to human rights and the authorities’ selective enforcement of the law against minority groups and human rights defenders constitute violations of the right to freedom of expression and association,” the statement said.

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