Man­dalay jour­nal­ist threat­ened after re­port­ing on il­le­gal log­ging

The Myanmar Times - - News - Kyawkoko@mm­times.com KYAW KO KO

A JOUR­NAL­IST who says he was forced to flee his home for fear of reprisals from tim­ber smug­glers has ac­cused lo­cal au­thor­i­ties in Man­dalay Re­gion of not com­ing to his aid. And an­other re­porter, a free­lancer, staged a one-man protest de­nounc­ing “cor­rupt of­fi­cials”.

Ko Tin Zaw Oo, who works for The Voice Daily in Man­dalay Re­gion, says six men came to his home on Oc­to­ber 6, the day after the pa­per car­ried a story he wrote on il­le­gal sawmills in Thabeikkyin town­ship.

“One day after I cov­ered the story, they came to my home. They told me that they had come from the for­est to see me, as I was well-known. Then they told me to fol­low them. I asked them to wait, as I was writ­ing a story for the news­pa­per. While they were wait­ing I called the deputy head of the town­ship po­lice, but he told me to call the chief of po­lice. Just then, a gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial turned up, and the men left. My neigh­bours ral­lied around the whole night, and the next morn­ing I fled to Man­dalay for my safety,” he said.

On Oc­to­ber 13, Ko Tin Zaw Oo held a press con­fer­ence at the Man­dalay Me­dia Cen­tre, urg­ing the au­thor­i­ties to con­duct an ur­gent in­ves­ti­ga­tion into smug­gling in Thabeikkyin town­ship.

“I didn’t get ef­fec­tive help from the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties. As my fam­ily and I were con­cerned for our safety, we don’t dare go back home. I’ve alerted sev­eral gov­ern­ment de­part­ments to our sit­u­a­tion. The rule of law in Thabeikkyin town­ship is un­der threat,” he said.

On Oc­to­ber 13, free­lance cor­re­spon­dent Ko Nanda demon­strated out­side Man­dalay Re­gion gov­ern­ment of­fices in sup­port of Ko Tin Zaw Oo. He used his solo protest to de­mand that the re­gional gov­ern­ment con­duct a field in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the at­tempted in­tim­i­da­tion of the press by peo­ple in­volved in il­le­gal log­ging, claim­ing cor­rupt civil ser­vants were fail­ing to take ef­fec­tive ac­tion on smug­gling.

“Please take le­gal ac­tion against cor­rupt civil ser­vants and smug­glers here,” he said. “Re­porters and oth­ers driven from their homes need the pro­tec­tion of the law. Smug­gling is rife in Thabeikkyin.”

Res­i­dents who asked not to be iden­ti­fied said smug­gling of logs, gem­stones and cat­tle, as well as il­le­gal gold min­ing, was tak­ing place in Thabeikkyin, and the smug­glers had threat­ened towns­peo­ple. – Trans­la­tion by Thiri Min Htun

Photo: Kyaw Ko Ko

Ko Nanda staged a solo protest for me­dia free­dom out­side of the re­gional gov­ern­ment of­fice on Oc­to­ber 13.

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