Myanmar jails Turkish broadcast journalists for two months

Aung Naing Soe, a Burmese freelance journalist and interpreter, is hugged by his mother during his first court appearance together with three others after being accused for allegedly flying drones illegally over parliament buildings in Naypyitaw. (AP)
Updated 10 November 2017
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Myanmar jails Turkish broadcast journalists for two months

NAYPYITAW, Myanmar: A Myanmar court jailed two journalists on assignment for Turkey’s state broadcaster, along with their interpreter and driver, for two months on Friday for violating an aircraft law by filming with a drone.
Cameraman Lau Hon Meng from Singapore and reporter Mok Choy Lin from Malaysia, were detained on October 27 along with their Myanmar interpreter, Aung Naing Soe, and driver, Hla Tin.
The four had been working on a documentary for TRT World, the English-language subsidiary of the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation, when they were detained for attempting to fly a drone near parliament in the capital, Naypyitaw.
While none of the four detained is a Turkish national, the case has further strained diplomatic ties in the wake of President Tayyip Erdogan accusing Myanmar’s military of carrying out a “genocide” against the Buddhist-majority country’s Rohingya Muslim minority.
Police initially began investigations into whether they had violated an import-export rule that carries a penalty of up to three years in jail, but the judge in the case opted to introduce a fresh charge of contravening the 1934 Burma Aircraft Act, which carries a maximum sentence of three months.
Both the cameraman and reporter pleaded guilty to the lesser charge, and the judge sentenced all four to two months, according to a Reuters reporter at the hearing.
A fresh hearing will be held on November 16 to determine whether charges will be laid for violating the import-export rules.
“The detainees admitted that they committed the crime hoping they would only be fined, so it shocked us when the judge sentenced them to two months,” said defense lawyer Khin Maung Zaw.
The lawyer said he would appeal for a reduction in the sentence to a fine.
Before proceedings began on Friday, Mok told reporters in the court that they were sorry for any disrespect of the Myanmar’s laws, but complained that the legal process had lacked transparency.
“We have no idea what is going on and we are not allowed to speak to our family,” she said.
“And the rules and procedures are not explained to us. We were asked to sign statements that are completely in Burmese that we cannot understand.”
Interpreter Aung Naing Soe told reporters as he was brought to court the four had not been mistreated while in custody, though police had asked about who they had spoken to and about the trips he had made to several of Myanmar’s restive regions, including Rakhine.
Myanmar says the military counter-insurgency clearance operation launched in August was provoked by Rohingya militant attacks on security posts in Rakhine State, and has denied both Erdogan’s accusation and a top UN official’s description of the operation as a “classic case of ethnic cleansing.”
More than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar for neighboring Bangladesh since the military operation began.


Nepal blocks 25,000 websites in pornography crackdown

Updated 14 October 2018
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Nepal blocks 25,000 websites in pornography crackdown

  • The government issued new criminal and civil codes this year that include regulations against the use, broadcast and publication of pornography
  • Media rights groups have expressed concern at the blanket ban of website

KATMANDU, Nepal: Nepalese Internet providers have begun blocking thousands of pornographic websites as part of a government directive aimed at stopping sexual violence, officials said Sunday.:
The government issued new criminal and civil codes this year that include regulations against the use, broadcast and publication of pornographic materials with punishment for violators of up to one year in prison.
Min Prasad Aryal of the Nepal Telecom Authority said Sunday that more than 25,000 websites have been blocked under the campaign.
“This is only the start, but a very good start,” Aryal said, adding that a team of officials are monitoring Internet service providers to ensure the order is followed.
He said those providers who refuse or fail to comply face a fine of up to $4,200 and risk losing their operating license.
Internet service providers say they are complying with the government order but say it would be impossible to weed out and block all such sites.
“We are following the government order and have blocked the list of websites that was provided. However, it is not practical and technically not possible to block every pornographic website,” said Binay Bohra of Vianet Communications.
Bohra said they feared that with the new law service providers could easily be punished.
Media rights groups have also expressed concern at the blanket ban of websites.
“This opens up the path for the government to block any websites in the future, saying they have obscene content. This order was issued without clarifying what is obscene and why or without doing any proper study,” said Taranath Dahal, who heads the Freedom Forum, a Nepal-based media rights group.
Dahal said there should be clear regulations from the government on what content is considered obscene and pornographic and what aged users should be barred.
The government issued a similar ban in 2011, but this time there are more serious punishments for violations.