1. The Institute for Strategy and Policy (ISP) – Myanmar has learned that Aung Myo Htet, a member of the ISP-Myanmar staff, was sentenced by a court to two years in prison on November 30, 2021, for violating Section 505A of the Penal Code. ISP-Myanmar strongly condemns this decision by the court.
2. On April 20, 2021, junta authorities arrested Aung Myo Htet at a teashop in Kantbalu, his hometown in Sagaing Region. He was charged under Section 505A, which the military junta added as part of changes made to the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code after it seized power. The section prescribes punishment for anyone who:
(a) causes or intends to cause fear to a group of citizens or to the public,
(b) causes or intends to spread false news, knowing or believing that it is untrue,
(c) causes or intends to commit or to agitate directly or indirectly criminal offence against a Government employee, any kind of Government employees or Government employees.
The junta alleges that Aung Myo Htet was a reporter working for the Democratic Voice of Burma and Mizzima media organizations.
3. The two year sentence handed down to Aung Myo Htet is another sign of the state’s suppression of the “freedom of expression” in Myanmar. The junta has repeatedly used 505A to provide legal cover for its efforts to silence those who oppose military dictatorship. ISP-Myanmar demands the immediate release of Aung Myo Htet and that his sentence be overturned.
4. Reports indicate the arrest of 116 media personnel since the military coup in February 2021. While state authorities have released 79 people, 37 of them remain in detention. Two detainees have received lengthy prisons sentences. ISP-Myanmar demands the unconditional release of all media personnel and that the junta drop the unjust charges against them.
5. ISP-Myanmar is an independent, non-partisan, and non-governmental think tank established in 2016 to promote democracy, a federal union, and strengthen civil society in Myanmar.