Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Whistleblowing Myanmar policeman sentenced to jail



Whistleblowing Myanmar policeman sentenced to jail

Myanmar Deputy Police Major Moe Yan Naing (centre) leaves court following the ongoing trial of two detained journalists in Yangon on April 20. AFP
Myanmar Deputy Police Major Moe Yan Naing (centre) leaves court following the ongoing trial of two detained journalists in Yangon on April 20. AFP

Whistleblowing Myanmar policeman sentenced to jail

A Myanmar police officer who told a court his colleagues had tried to “entrap” two Reuters journalists has been handed a prison term, a police spokesman said on Monday.

Deputy Police Major Moe Yan Naing, called as a prosecution witness earlier this month in a pre-trial hearing against the journalists, stunned the courtroom when he alleged a senior officer had ordered colleagues to “get” reporter Wa Lone by handing him sensitive files.

The 32-year-old Myanmar journalist and his colleague Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, face up to 14 years in prison on charges of possessing classified documents relating to security operations in Rakhine state, where the military is accused of atrocities against Rohingya Muslims.

They have been detained since they were arrested in December after meeting with police, in a case that has drawn intense global attention.

According to a police spokesman, Moe Yan Naing has been jailed for breaching a police disciplinary act, a charge he had been facing since December for his previous communication with Wa Lone.

Police sources said he was sentenced before he gave his shock testimony – an extremely rare instance of a security official openly challenging superiors in the formerly junta-run country.

“He was sentenced because he told others about information concerned with the police force without permission,” Police Colonel Myo Thu Soe said, declining to say when the verdict was reached or how long his jail term was.

“He was found to have breached the police disciplinary act,” he added.

Moe Yan Naing’s wife said she was informed of her husband’s sentencing on Sunday night.

“The police told me yesterday [Sunday] evening that he had been sent to Insein prison to face a year-long sentence,” Tu Tu said through tears.

After he testified on April 20 the defence quickly expressed fears for his safety, while the prosecution filed a motion to declare him a “hostile witness”.

Within 24 hours Tu Tu and her children were evicted from their police housing in the capital Naypyidaw.

A police spokesman denied any connection between the two events, saying it was a “coincidence”.

The case against the Reuters reporters compounded fears about slipping press freedoms in Myanmar, a fledgling democracy riven with ethnic conflicts.

At the time of their arrests the reporters were investigating security officers’ roles in the extrajudicial killing of 10 Rohingya men in northern Rakhine, the site of an army crackdown that the UN says amounts to ethnic cleansing of the Muslim minority.

The military has overwhelmingly denied allegations of atrocities but did concede that security officers took part in the killings reported by Reuters – a rare admission of guilt made after the journalists were arrested.

Some 700,000 Rohingya have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh since the army-led campaign was launched last August, ostensibly to combat Rohingya insurgents.

The stateless group has faced decades of systematic discrimination and persecution in mainly Buddhist Myanmar.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia unveils new quarantine regulations

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Hun Sen: Cambodia set to fully reopen

    Prime Minister Hun Sen concludes that the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, during which many people either flocked to their hometowns for family reunion or gathered at tourist attractions across the country, has not caused an outbreak of Covid-19. In a special address to

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Cambodia resumes issuance of tourist visas

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has announced the resumption of its tourist visa and visa exemption programme after a long hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In a letter dated October 20 and addressed to foreign embassies and consulates, foreign minister Prak Sokhonn

  • Cambodia voted ‘world’s friendliest country’ in Rough Guides reader poll

    Cambodia ranked number one among the “World’s Friendliest Countries”, according to a reader poll conducted by London-based international website “Rough Guides”. Taking submissions through Twitter and Facebook, “Rough Guides”, a well-known travel agency and publisher of guidebooks, said the Kingdom “was by far the