Ij reportika Logo

Pro-junta editor charged with defamation after criticizing ministry

The editor-in-chief of People Media was charged with defamation following critical comments he made in a livestream video – the first time an employee of a pro-junta news outlet has faced legal action by the military since the 2021 coup d’etat.

Kyaw Soe Oo’s comments on Tuesday found fault with the Ministry of Home Affairs for not sending any senior police officials to attend the funeral of an officer who was recently killed in Kachin state. 

Nay Pyi Taw police arrested Kyaw Soe Oo the same day, family members told Radio Free Asia. 

The ruling military junta, which seized power in a February 2021 coup, has cracked down on independent media outlets in Myanmar to silence them from reporting about the coup and its violent aftermath. 

In 2021, the junta shut down five media outlets that provided independent coverage of the protests against military rule. 

Last year, the regime threatened legal action against Democratic Voice of Burma TV and Mizzima TV, demanding that the shuttered independent news broadcasters pay thousands of dollars in transmission fees, Voice of America reported.

People Media is known for its pro-military views. Kyaw Soe Oo regularly broadcasts his video commentaries on Telegram and YouTube. 

In Tuesday’s livestream, Kyaw Soe Oo noted that police officers who have ties to high-ranking officials are typically never assigned to dangerous frontier posts. It’s only the officers with no money or connections who are transferred to those areas, he said.

He also invited viewers to send him information on possible bribery involving military and police officers and gambling businesses. 

After his arrest, Kyaw Soe Oo underwent two days of interrogation before he was formally charged under Section 505(a) of the penal code, relatives said. That provision of the law was added by junta authorities after the coup to punish comments or implications that the coup or the military is illegitimate.

Kyaw Soe Oo was sent to Nay Pyi Taw prison on Thursday, relatives said.

Police raided People Media’s office in Nay Pyi Taw on Thursday morning and confiscated computers, phones and cameras, according to sources close to Kyaw Soe Oo.

There has been no official statement from the military junta regarding the arrest.

Translated by Kalyar Lwin. Edited by Matt Reed.