Police officials in Myanmar arrested a photojournalist on Saturday for posting a satirical message mocking a 1971 battle between government troops and communist fighters on Facebook, according to media reports. The incident is latest in a series of recent arrests of journalists and publishers in the country, which is currently being headed by former military commander Thein Sein.
Photojournalist Aung Nay Myo was detained by Myanmar police on charges of violating the 1950 Emergency Provision Act, according to The Associated Press. He had allegedly posted a statement on his Facebook wall satirizing the 1971 battle, stating that it was directed by Thein Sein. Aung faces a maximum sentence of seven years in jail if found guilty.
According to a close friend of Aung, the photojournalist was jailed because of his political activism.
“It was 3 a.m. in the morning and the Special Branch guys came to his home and said they were looking for drugs,” the friend, whose name was not disclosed, said, according to Irrawaddy, a local news website, adding: “Since they found nothing related to drugs, they took him to the station and seized his computer, hard-disks and memory cards.
"When we contacted the police and authorities, they said they received a message from an informer about drugs. But later, we found out that the arrest was connected to his posts on Facebook."
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based non-profit, Myanmar ranks among the top 10 countries with the highest number of imprisoned journalists. Moreover, in the latest Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders, the country ranks 144 out of a total of 180 nations.
“I don’t agree with what they did to Aung Nay Myo. For me, the case is intentionally orchestrated to trouble a person who is politically active,” Ant Bwe Kyaw, another close friend of the jailed photojournalist, said, according to Irrawaddy, adding: “He is always helpful to the 88 Generation Students, the National League for Democracy, and finally to the students who are now on the march for education reform. He simply annoyed the authorities.”