Aung Marm Oo, an ethnic Rakhine Editor-in-chief of a news agency based in Rakhine State, has been in hiding for more than a year after charges were filed against him for violating the Unlawful Associations Act. His news agency, Development Media Group (DMG), has been reporting on violations during the ongoing armed conflict between the Myanmar military and the Arakan Army, an ethnic Rakhine armed group. If convicted under this repressive law, often used to target ethnic minorities in Myanmar, he faces up to five years in prison.
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Union Attorney General U Tun Tun Oo
Union Attorney General Office No. 25
Nay Pyi Taw
Republic of the Union of Myanmar
Fax: + 95 67 404106
Email: [email protected]
Dear Attorney-General U Tun Tun Oo,
I urge you to drop the politically motivated charges against Aung Marm Oo. As Editor-in-Chief and Executive Director of Development Media Group (DMG), it is believed that he is being targeted due to the news agency’s reporting on violations during the ongoing armed conflict between the Myanmar military and the Arakan Army in Rakhine and Chin States.
It is concerning to learn that, more than a year after Special Branch police filed charges under Section 17(2) of the Unlawful Associations Act, the authorities have yet to provide information in writing to his family or to Development Media Group about why Aung Marm Oo has been charged. No explanation has been provided about why the authorities searched his house; questioned his family members; and interrogated his colleagues about his whereabouts.
Under international human rights law and standards, all people charged with criminal offenses have the right to be promptly informed in detail about the nature and cause of the charges against them. The right to freedom of expression includes the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media. I am also alarmed by the ongoing crackdown on independent media and peaceful activists in Myanmar. At least three media workers from other media outlets have been accused of violating counter-terrorism laws in the last two months, and DMG is facing difficulties in renewing its media and publishing licenses.
I request that you drop all charges against Aung Marm Oo and other media workers facing imprisonment for doing their journalistic work; review and repeal, or amend laws that restrict the right to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, to bring them in line with international human rights standards; and ensure a safe environment for all media workers, human rights defenders and activists to carry out their work and exercise their human rights.