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Journalist arrested for taking pictures of flooded areas

(Mizzima News/IFEX) - The editor of a weekly news journal based in Rangoon has condemned the arrest of an intern reporter for taking photos of flood damage in Magway Division in central Burma.

Police detained Aung Thu Nyein, 28, an intern for "Weekly Eleven Journal", while he was taking photos of the flooding that hit Magway on the evening of 13 September. The officers seized his digital camera, deleted its photos and told him to report to the township chief's office in the compound of Magway Police Station No. 1 the following day.

"Magway is the capital of Magway Division so this kind of incident shouldn't happen, which is why we've complained," Wai Phy, the journal's managing editor, said. "If they continue to detain him, we'll take legal action against the police."

The Eleven Media Group sent two senior editors to Magway that day to handle the case, Wai Phyo told Mizzima. "We have informed Myanmar [Burma] Writers' and Journalists' Association about the case," he added.

"Weekly Eleven" reported on its website that on 14 September, the intern and one of the Peace and Development Council members visited the office of the township's chief, who told him to sign a pledge against taking any more photos.

Aung Thu Nyein was told he must sign the pledge in front of two witnesses who must also be members of the Peace and Development Council. He needed one more witness and had to inform his employer, so he returned home, the journal reported.

He later went back to the office and announced that he would not sign the pledge, but the township chief was absent. He again returned to the office on 15 September and was told he would be detained until he signed the pledge, which listed four demands, the journal said.

An editor from a prominent journal based in Rangoon told Mizzima there were many such cases in which reporters' digital cameras were confiscated and their photos deleted.

"However, the reporters were not detained," the editor said, adding, "Aung Thu Nyein is a reporter from a journal that publishes in Burma legally so the journal can report as much as the censor board allows. This is an ugly case. It should not happen, especially at the current period."

Mizzima tried to contact Magway Police Stations No. 1 and No. 2 to ask about the continued detention of Aung Thu Nyein, but officers refused to provide any information.

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