Independent media ‘sluts’ and ‘whores,’ Myanmar military spokesman says on state TV

Zaw Min Tun CNN Interview | Screen capture from CNN Interview
Zaw Min Tun CNN Interview | Screen capture from CNN Interview

In a press conference aired on state broadcaster MRTV, military spokesperson Zaw Min Tun blasted independent media as “sluts” and “whores.” He also aired a “confession” of detained MMA fighter Phoe Thaw on Saturday.

“The difference is clear between the whorish media’s propaganda and reporting and the actual situation. About the media, I want to say you don’t need to be such sluts to operate,” Tun said without a hint of irony.

In a “confession” video, Phoe Thaw, an MMA fighter who suffered severe burns after several bombs exploded near his gym in Bahan Township, described from his hospital bed how he became entangled with rebel forces who taught him how to make home-made bombs. The junta accused him of manufacturing explosive devices. He had participated in anti-coup protests since Feb. 1 and had spoken out against the military junta.

“I ordered a bundle of 30 to 40 detonators and paid 60,000 kyats. They (rebels) demonstrated how to make hand grenades by using materials you can buy in the cities,” Thaw said with a dead-pan expression.

Thaw also decried what he called “terrorist” attacks on schools and hospitals where several bombings have been reported in recent weeks. However, netizens remain unconvinced by his so-called confession, calling it a “false testimony.”

MRTV has aired a steady stream of “confession” videos where members of civilian defense forces and CDM participants renounce their previous activities and call on the public to not believe reporting by independent media, in an attempt to push their own narrative of a pro-democracy movement gone rogue.

The comments come amid an ongoing assault on journalists and news media organizations in the wake of the Feb. 1 coup. Dozens of detained journalists remain behind bars and several independent media organisations were stripped of their operating licenses.

Several foreign journalists were also arrested including Danny Fenster, the managing editor of Frontier Myanmar. His family and several rights organisations have demanded his release.

American journalist Nathan Maung, who is the editor-at-large for Kamayut Media, was released today after police withdrew charges against him, Reuters reported. He’s due to be deported tomorrow from Myanmar. Kamayut journalist Han Thar Nyein, who was arrested with him, remains behind bars.

According to Reporters Without Borders, the pair suffered brutal physical and mental torture at the hands of prison guards. They were beaten, burnt with cigarettes and forced to kneel on ice until it melted.

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