Myanmar: Two journalists jailed for filming using drones near parliament
11 Nov 2017
A Myanmar court has awarded a 2-month sentence to two journalists for using a drone to capture video-footage close to the nation's parliament.
The journalists were reportedly on assignment for the Turkish state broadcaster TRT World and were charged with violating Myanmar's aircraft laws.
The incident could strain the already tense diplomatic relations between Turkey and Myanmar.
Here's more about it.
Deteriorating human rights situation in Myanmar
As thousands of Rohingyas flee from violence in Myanmar, several world powers have accused Myanmar of suppression of human rights.
The country is also notorious for its curbs on freedom of the press. Journalists working on sensitive issues are often threatened and have been found murdered.
The military, in particular, has been accused of working to imprison journalists who criticize them.
Who are the detainees?
The detainees include cameraman Lau Hon Meng (Singapore), reporter Mok Choy Lin (Malaysia), Myanmarese interpreter Aung Naing Soe and their driver. At the time of their arrest, they were working on assignment from the English language subsidiary of the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation.
What happened at the trial?
The defendants were investigated for import-export rules violations, which carries a sentence of up to 3 years in prison.
The judge awarded two-month imprisonment under a separate charge of violating the 1934 Burma Aircraft Act.
Defence lawyer Khin Maung Zaw said the defendants only pleaded guilty hoping they'd only receive a fine as penalty.
"It shocked us when the judge sentenced them," he added.
What do the defendants say?
Speaking to reporters ahead of the commencement of the trial, Mok pointed out that the legal process lacks transparency.
She said that the trial process wasn't explained and they weren't allowed to speak to their family members.
Aung Naing Soe, the jailed interpreter, revealed that they were subjected to extensive questioning on the trips they made to volatile regions such as the Rakhine.
The imprisonment of journalists may potentially worsen ties between Myanmar and Turkey. With regards to the proceedings, the journalists are expected to stand trial for violation of import-export rules on November 16. The defendants are also likely to move for a reduction in sentence.
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