Myanmar sentences drone-flying journalists to prison


A court in Myanmar has sentenced two journalists hired by Turkey’s state broadcaster to two months in prison over flying a drone near the country’s parliament without a license.

Lau Hon Meng from Singapore and Mok Choy Lin from Malaysia, who were arrested last month, were convicted on Friday of violating an aircraft law by filming footage with the drone.

The two journalists were on an assignment by Turkish Radio and Television (TRT) when they were detained.

Local journalist and interpreter, Aung Naing Soe, and the group’s driver, Hla Tin, who were detained alongside the foreign journalist by the authorities on October 27, also received two-month jail sentences for collaborating with the foreign journalists.

A lawyer for the interpreter and the driver said the two locals should have been set free because they had had no role in the ownership and operation of the drone.

Under Myanmar’s Export and Import Law, the defendants could have been handed jail terms of up to three years.

The persecution of the Rohingya in Myanmar

Meanwhile, Myanmar’s military has been continuing a deadly crackdown on the Rohingya Muslim minority group in the country and enforcing restrictions on journalists and aid groups trying to report and extend aid to the community under a military crackdown in the western state of Rakhine.

More Rohingya seek shelter in Bangladesh despite government claims that the violence against the Muslims has ended.

Government-sanctioned violence by the military and Buddhist mobs has already driven out more than 600,000 Rohingya since late August.

Ariful Islam, of Bangladesh’s Border Guard, said about 200 people arrived on Thursday morning on the stretch of coast he commands at Teknaf, at the southern tip of Cox’s Bazar district in Bangladesh.

One Myanmar refugee, Abdus Sabir, arrived at Shamlapur along with a large group of Rohingya after a six-hour boat ride to end an interstate journey, which had begun weeks ago.

“We fled because the military is still burning our houses,” Abdus, who had abandoned his home in the Rathedaung region of Rakhine, told Reuters.

Husain Sharif, from the Buthidaung region in Myanmar, said he had rowed for four hours to help bring across 56 people on a raft cobbled together from bamboo and plastic jerrycans.

“Some boatmen were asking for huge money we didn’t have. So we made our own boat and came,” Sharif said, adding that thousands more Rohingya were still stranded at Pa Nyaung Pin Gyi at the mouth of the Naf River.

The United Nation has described the government-sanctioned violence against the Rohingya as similar to “textbook ethnic cleansing.”

Human Rights groups and advocates have called on the UN to ask the International Criminal Court in The Hague to launch an investigation into the crimes, rights violations, and atrocities in Rakhine, where a large group of Rohingya have been killed, raped, or tortured.


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