Myanmar govt inquiring into journalist arrests in Bangladesh

By NYAN HLAING LYNN in NAY PYI TAW
& MRATT KYAW THU in YANGON

State Counsellor’s Office spokesman U Zaw Htay says the government is making representations to Bangladesh on behalf of two acclaimed Myanmar photojournalists, who have been in detention for more than a week.

Ko Minzayar Oo and Ko Khun Lat were arrested on September 7 for visa offences, a day after allegedly travelling into Bangladesh on tourist visas to cover the refugee exodus there.

Earlier press reports that the pair were detained on espionage charges are incorrect, sources in Bangladesh with knowledge of the case have said.

Both were on assignment for the German magazine GEO. Minzayar Oo was tasked with covering the exodus of the Rohingya community from northern Rakhine State, with Hkun Lat working as his assistant. A bail request was denied at a September 14 preliminary hearing.

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A Bangladeshi photojournalist arrested at the same time as the pair has since been released, according to AFP.

Zaw Htay told Frontier on Friday that the government was still attempting to establish the facts of the case with the Bangladeshi government and was monitoring the pair’s detention.

According to a Sunday press release by GEO, authorities in Dhaka and Cox’s Bazar were denying the pair access to their legal representation.

“We are very concerned that the lawyer is being denied access,” said  GEO editor-in-chief Christoph Kucklick and Panos Pictures director Adrian Evans in a joint statement. “We need to know that they are well treated and physically unharmed.”

Ma San Tint, Minzayar Oo’s wife, said in a weekend Facebook post that the pair appreciated the public’s support, and that she remained hopeful the pair would be bailed soon.

More than 400,000 people have fled across the border into Bangladesh since the August 25 attacks on police and military posts in Rakhine State by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, according to the latest UN figures.

A further 30,000 Rakhine and minority communities in the state’s north have also been displaced, according to the Myanmar government.

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