Posted November 14, 2018 06:07:17A reporter for Al Jazeera is in Malaysia and was arrested on Thursday, after the Myanmar government accused him of broadcasting the country’s national news from a Chinese consulate in the country.
The arrest of Al Jazeera Myanmar reporter Haingi Ngawuwal is a further blow to Myanmar’s fledgling democracy, which was in shambles when a military coup ousted the government last year.
Ngawuwe, 36, was the last reporter in Myanmar to be arrested and jailed, according to the government.
The Chinese consulate was seized by Myanmar’s military in March after it refused to hand over its information, citing a threat to national security.
He has since been detained in a secret prison and is under house arrest, according the Malaysian Foreign Ministry.
Al Jazeera has not confirmed whether he is being held in the secret prison or a regular prison in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.
Nugent, a Hong Kong-based Myanmar journalist, said the arrest was the latest in a series of crackdowns on journalists.
“The government in Myanmar has tried to shut down any outlet, no matter how legitimate, that is critical of the government and the government has tried very hard to intimidate any journalist who is reporting on the events of the past few weeks,” he told Al Jazeera.
“They have tried to do that very aggressively, they have tried very aggressively with the use of the criminal law.”‘
It’s not a crime’Al Jazeera’s senior Asia editor, Peter Greste, said that the government had sought to intimidate the reporter with the arrest of Ngawunwal, an Al Jazeera correspondent based in Yangon, who is believed to be the only journalist in Myanmar who has not fled to China.
“It’s a huge blow to the reputation of the country and the journalists,” Gresteb told Aljaan Frederiksen.
“If he were to be detained, it is not a criminal offence to be doing this work and if he were not detained he would be able to report on what is happening and what is going on, because he is a journalist and he is an Aljazeera correspondent.”
Nugents work with a team of 20 journalists, but the government is currently negotiating with the journalists’ union, according a statement by the Myanmar Journalists’ Union (Miwaw), which is currently holding talks with Myanmar authorities.
Nguon, the Myanmar minister of media, said on Friday that Ngawin was not working for Aljaws source of information on the country, but had only reported on the Rohingya crisis.
“We have informed the Chinese authorities and we have advised them not to interfere with our work,” he said.
“They can stay in their own countries and can come to Myanmar, but we can report to the people.”
Ngaws detention comes days after Al Jazeera reported that Myanmar was preparing to release the remains of more than 1,000 people who were killed during the military coup.
“Al Jazeera will continue to monitor developments closely, including the arrest and detention of journalists, in Myanmar and beyond,” Al Jazeera said in a statement.
Aljaws Myanmar editor, Aung San Suu Kyi, has repeatedly condemned the arrests of the journalists and called on the government to release Ngawwa and Suu.
The government has also been accused of targeting journalists with “false accusations”, including allegations of involvement in a crackdown on Rohingya activists.
Ngyi told Aljamasalas news website that the Myanmar authorities had “in the past made use of these allegations, but have not done anything about it”.
“The Chinese government, with the support of the international community, should ensure that journalists do not suffer false accusations in Myanmar,” she said.
“It is a shame that Al Jazeera, which is the most important news outlet in Myanmar, is being singled out for this kind of targeting.”
Al Jazeera is a joint venture of the Al Jazeera Group and Smith & Warnock, and is a subsidiary of Aljams Media Group, Listed Company of Singapore.