Reporter Zaw Pe has been sentenced to a year in prison, a severe blow to press freedom in Burma.
The Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) video journalist was sentenced on April 7th, charged with trespassing and disturbing a civil servant. Zaw Pe was arrested in August 2012 while seeking an interview with a government official at the Magwe Division Education Department in conjunction with a developing story on a Japanese-funded scholarship program.
Zaw Pe’s jail sentence raises serious alarm and questions regarding Burma’s media reforms.
“Zaw Pe went to a public area to conduct an interview and was prosecuted for disturbing a civil servant and trespassing, which we see as a big threat to media freedom,” said fellow reporter Aung Soe Htike. Zaw Pe’s jail sentence makes it clear that the Burmese government has not relinquished control over the media.
Zaw Pe has gone to jail for being a journalist before. He is a former political prisoner, having partially served a 3-year prison sentence in 2010 for shooting a video without a license. In that instance, Zaw Pe was attempting to document a water shortage in Nat Mauk Township and paid dearly for his honest reporting on a story well within the public interest. Now, it’s happening again.
Burma is backtracking on its promise of media freedom. Demand the release of all political prisoners, including Zaw Pe, and join the call to free Zaw Pe with these hashtags: