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Burmese junta sentenced US journalist to 11 years

Burmese junta sentenced US journalist to 11 years

Danny Fenster, an American journalist detained for nearly six months in Burma was tried on Friday. The Burmese junta sentenced him “to 11 years in detention for incitement to dissent, illegal association and violation of visa law,” said his lawyer Than Zaw Aung, adding that his client had not yet decided. ‘he would appeal or not. In a separate proceeding, he is charged with terrorism and sedition and faces life imprisonment.

At 37, is the first Western journalist to be detained for years in Burma, where the generals regained power after toppling former civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi in February. Solicited, a spokesman for the junta was not available to comment on this sentence.

A “scandalous and unacceptable” sentence

Frontier Myanmar, one of the country’s main independent news outlets, in which Danny Fenster worked as editor, said it was “deeply disappointed” in a statement. “We just want him to be released as quickly as possible so that he can return home and reunite with his family.”

This sentence is “scandalous and unacceptable (…) the accusations have been fabricated”, declared Phil Robertson, deputy director of the Asia department of Human Rights Watch, Ming Yu Hah at Amnesty International denouncing “a flawed case from the beginning” . “This regime does not respect any rule,” noted Richard Horsey of the International Crisis Group (ICG) analysis center. “It is a big setback for American diplomacy” which deploys a lot of efforts to try to obtain the release of its national.

Danny Fenster lost a lot of weight

Danny Fenster was arrested on May 24 at Yangon International Airport as he attempted to leave the country. Since then, he has been detained in the economic capital at Insein prison with many political prisoners. His trial was held behind closed doors inside the prison. “His continued detention is unacceptable. Journalism is not a crime, ”a spokesperson for US diplomacy recently said.

Danny Fenster, who contracted Covid-19 in custody according to his family, has lost a lot of weight, according to his lawyer. To justify his conviction, the court provided information from the Ministry of Information, which is entirely controlled by the junta. The latter claims that Danny Fenster, at the time of his arrest, was working for a local media outlet, Myanmar Now, whose license was withdrawn shortly after the coup, said Than Zaw Aung.

31 journalists still in detention

Burma has sunk into chaos since the February 1 putsch that ended a 10-year democratic parenthesis. The military regime continues a bloody crackdown on its opponents with more than 1,250 civilians killed and more than 7,000 in detention, according to the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners (AAPP), a local NGO that reports cases of torture, rape and extrajudicial executions.

The press is strangled by the junta, which tries to strengthen its control over information, limiting access to the Internet and canceling media licenses. More than 100 journalists have been arrested in recent months, according to Reporting ASEAN, a human rights association. 31 are still in detention.

Aung San Suu Kyi targeted by Burmese justice

Under house arrest since his arrest at dawn on February 1, Aung San Suu Kyi, 76, is the subject of a multitude of legal proceedings. Since June, she has been tried, behind closed doors, for illegal importation of walkie-talkies, violation of restrictions linked to Covid-19, sedition, corruption, incitement to public unrest … She risks long years in prison if she is found guilty.

Many observers denounce a political trial aimed at neutralizing the winner of the 2015 and 2020 elections. At the end of October, Win Htein, one of his close associates aged 80, was sentenced to 20 years in detention for treason.

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