Myanmar journalists facing deportation in Thailand ‘safe’ in third country

Bangkok’s Immigration Detention Center on Soi Suan Phlu holds thousands of foreign nationals including families and children.
Bangkok’s Immigration Detention Center on Soi Suan Phlu holds thousands of foreign nationals including families and children.

Three Myanmar journalists facing deportation from Thailand have left the country and are safe in an unnamed third country with two other activists, according to a statement by DVB Burmese.

Three DVB Burmese journalists and two activists, dubbed the “Chiang Mai 5,” were arrested on March 9 in Chiang Mai after they crossed the Thai-Myanmar border following the Myanmar military’s revocation of DVB’s media license. Thai authorities had vowed that they would find a “humanitarian solution” for the detainees.

The three journalists, Kyaw Zeyar Win, Nay Thwin Nyein, and Maneri Yee, were charged last Wednesday with illegal entry into Thailand and transferred to Bangkok to serve their seven-month prison sentence.

Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the Committee to Protect Journalists called on Thailand to protect the journalists and urged the country not to deport them back to Myanmar.

“It is imperative that the Thai authorities do not forcibly return these individuals to Myanmar. To do so would place them at real risk of arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and other ill-treatment, and death,” Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Campaigns, Ming Yu Hah, said in a statement.

Myanmar’s security forces have reportedly killed over 900 civilians and arrested over 5,600 over four months of brutal crackdowns against peaceful pro-democracy protests. Dozens of journalists have been arrested and over 40 remain behind bars according to monitoring group Reporting ASEAN.

The military junta routinely target journalists with arrest warrants, nighttime raids, arbitrary arrests, beatings, and detention. They also revoked the media licenses of Mizzima, Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), Khit Thit Media, Myanmar Now and 7Day News in March.

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