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Magazine journalist covering plight of cyclone victims held in police detention

(Mizzima/IFEX) - A woman journalist covering the plight of Cyclone Nargis victims seeking aid from international NGOs in Rangoon has been detained by for over two weeks, according to her publication.

Eint Khaing Oo, 24, a journalist with the weekly journal "Ecovision", was arrested on 10 June 2008 as she covered the story of cyclone victims approaching NGOs for aid, according to an executive from the journal who wished not to be named. A group of cyclone victims, mostly from South Dagon Township, were on their way to seek aid from Rangoon-based international NGOs. Some were arrested on their way; some were reportedly released a few days later. News of the journalist's arrest emerged only on 24 June.

According to sources in the former capital, Eint Khaing Oo was arrested in front of the UNDP office at Natmauk Road, in Tamwe Township. She is now in custody at the Tamwe police station and was expected to be brought before the Tamwe Township Court on 25 June.

The police accuse her of taking photographs of cyclone victims with the intention of selling these to foreign-based Burmese media organizations, according to sources from her workplace.

"The police accusation is fabricated. She has no contact with foreign media and she had no intention of selling the pictures. She was arrested while she was performing her work as a journalist," a senior executive of "Ecovision" said.

"She joined our weekly journal only two months ago. She was very energetic and active. Like other journalists, she wanted to get a scoop and couldn't envisage danger," he added.

The 48-page "Ecovision" was first published in tabloid format in September 2006. Initially, it covered mainly economic issues. However, the journal evolved into a magazine-style publication and came to cover not only business but also domestic and international news, and to carry the occasional health and opinion article.

Cyclone Nargis lashed Burma on 2 and 3 May. The Irrawaddy and Rangoon divisions of the country were the worst hit. Burma's Deputy Foreign Minister Kyaw Thu told reporters on 23 June that the updated official figure was now 84,537 people killed and 53,836 missing.

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