In Burma, an American journalist sentenced to eleven years in prison for dissent

The Burmese repression takes on a judicial dimension. An American journalist, detained since May by the junta in Burma, was sentenced to eleven years in prison, his employer, the media, reported on Friday (November 12th). Frontier Myanmar.

The 37-year-old journalist was prosecuted on three counts: incitement to dissent, illegal association, violation of immigration law. In a separate proceeding, he is also indicted for terrorism and sedition. He faces life imprisonment.

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Danny Fenster was arrested on May 24, nearly four months after the military coup against former civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, at Yangon International Airport as he tried to leave the country.

The media Frontier Myanmar, one of the country’s main independent news outlets, for which the journalist worked as editor, said in a statement “Deeply disappointed”. “We just want him to be released as quickly as possible so he can go home and reunite with his family. “ Solicited, a spokesperson for the junta was not immediately available.

“Journalism is not a crime”

This award is “Scandalous and unacceptable (…), the accusations were fabricated ”said Phil Robertson, deputy director of the Asia department of the NGO Human Rights Watch. “This regime does not respect any rule. He is determined to do what he wants “, noted, for his part, Richard Horsey, of the International Crisis Group (ICG) analysis center. “It’s a big setback for American diplomacy”, who is putting a lot of effort into this release.

Since his arrest, he has been detained in Rangoon, the economic capital, in Insein prison, where many political prisoners are held. His trial is being held behind closed doors within the confines of the penitentiary establishment.

“His continued detention is unacceptable. Journalism is not a crime ”, a spokesman for US diplomacy recently said. Danny Fenster, who contracted Covid-19 in custody, according to his family, has lost a lot of weight, according to Than Zaw Aung, his lawyer.

To justify his conviction, the court provided information from the Ministry of Information, which is entirely controlled by the junta. The latter claims that Danny Fenster, at the time of his arrest, was working for a local media, Myanmar Now, whose license was withdrawn shortly after the coup, said his lawyer.

Bloody repression

This condemnation comes a few days after a meeting between the former American diplomat Bill Richardson and the head of the junta, General Min Aung Hlaing. The two men discussed the delivery of Covid-19 vaccines and medical supplies. Bill Richardson, who declined to give more details, said the US State Department asked him not to raise the journalist’s case during the visit.

Burma has been going through dark hours since the putsch of 1is February, which ended a ten-year democratic parenthesis. The regime continues a bloody crackdown on its opponents: more than 1,250 civilians have been killed and more than 7,000 are in detention, according to the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners (AAPP), a local NGO that reports cases of torture , rape and extrajudicial killings.

The press is strangled by the junta, which tries to strengthen its control over information, limiting access to the Internet and revoking media licenses. More than a hundred journalists have been arrested since the putsch, according to Reporting ASEAN, an association for the defense of rights, which notes that thirty-one are still in detention.

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Under house arrest since his arrest at dawn on the 1is February, Aung San Suu Kyi, 76, has been on trial since June for a multitude of offenses – illegal importation of walkie-talkies, violation of Covid-19 restrictions, sedition, corruption, incitement to public unrest . She faces long years in prison if found guilty.

Many observers denounce a political trial aimed at neutralizing the winner of the 2015 and 2020 elections. At the end of October, Win Htein, one of his close associates, aged 80, was sentenced to twenty years of detention for treason.

The World with AFP

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In Burma, an American journalist sentenced to eleven years in prison for dissent