Reporters from Rakhine-based Western News forced into hiding by junta

The outlet’s editor-in-chief has vowed to continue publishing stories despite an attempt by soldiers to raid its offices last week

Several journalists from Western News, a media outlet based in the Rakhine State capital of Sittwe, have gone into hiding after soldiers and police tried to locate their office for a raid last week, the publication’s chief editor has said.

Wunna Khwar Nyo told Myanmar Now that junta personnel travelled around Sittwe in five police and military vehicles on Friday evening looking for the location of the Western News office.

“They questioned people in the neighbourhood regarding our location so that they could raid us. All of the people from our office have been forced into hiding now,” said Wunna Khwar Nyo. The junta forces have so far been unable to locate the office, he added.

At least ten of the outlet’s journalists are now in hiding. It is unclear if authorities have filed any charges against them.

Friday marked the seventh anniversary of a Myanmar military attack on a rebel base in Laiza, Kachin State, that killed 23 cadets including eight members of the Arakan Army (AA).

Wunna Khwar Nyo suggested a Western News report about an event in Sittwe to mark the anniversary is the reason the outlet was targeted. The outlet has been subjected to intimidation by junta authorities before, he added.

In June the news team was summoned by the ministry of border affairs and security and told the junta did not like to be referred to as the military council and disliked the outlet’s coverage of rights abuses in Rakhine, he said.

“We didn’t stop writing news after the warning. I think they were holding a grudge against us for that,” Wunna Khwar Nyo said. The outlet will continue to publish stories even though its journalists are in hiding, he added.

Earlier this year the junta filed charges against the editor-in-charge and a reporter from the Rakhine-based Development Media Group. The outlet’s editor-in-chief, Aung Min Oo, is facing charges from 2019 but like his colleagues has so far evaded arrest.

The military council has revoked the publishing licenses of nine media outlets, including Myanmar Now, since seizing power in the February 1 coup.

More than 50 journalists remain in junta custody, according to Detained Journalists Information Myanmar.

Myanmar Now News