Taunggyi (dpa) – A Polish journalist arrested in Myanmar who works for the German news agency in Myanmar is released after almost two weeks.
On Thursday, Robert Bociaga took off from the airport in Yangon’s largest city (formerly Rangoon) to Poland, where he would land after several stopovers on Friday. The 30-year-old was arrested by soldiers on March 11 in Taunggyi, the capital of Shan State in central Burma.
At the time, Bociaga had reported from the region about the protests against the new junta after the military coup in early February. According to reports from the Myanmar Now news portal, emergency services used brutal violence against the population in Taunggyi on Thursday. One tweet mentioned ‘terrible photos’. At least four people are said to have died and several others have been injured.
About Bociaga’s release, DPA editor-in-chief Sven Gösmann said: “We are very relieved that Robert Bociaga will soon be free with his family”. At the same time, he warned that the situation remains very dangerous for journalists in Myanmar and for the population as a whole. “We call on the transitional government to respect the freedom of the press and human rights. The world and dpa will continue to watch closely what is happening in Myanmar, ”said Gösmann.
The case also caused a stir internationally. Reporters Without Borders had called for the immediate release of Bociaga and all other media workers arrested in Myanmar. The German Embassy in Yangon, which represents the consular interests of Polish citizens in Myanmar, demanded immediate access and information about the reason for his imprisonment.
In former Burma, since the coup d’état in early February, the military and police have become increasingly strict, not only against protesters, but also against politicians, activists and journalists. According to estimates by the prisoner aid organization AAPP, more than 2,900 people have been arrested so far. More than 280 were killed, AAPP tweeted Thursday. Until now, however, foreigners have been considered relatively safe. A surprising 600 inmates were released on Wednesday, most of them students.
On Thursday, tens of thousands took to the streets across the country to demand the release of arrested Prime Minister Aung San Suu Kyi and the restoration of her civilian government. The emergency services again tried to crush the resistance with tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition. Local media reports have reported that multiple deaths and many injured in various parts of Myanmar. “We have high hopes for our country because the people continue to fight for their dreams, even if these terrorists kill the people,” Lin Lin Thaw of the city of Monywa told the German news agency.
In Mandalay in the north alone, more than 20 people died between March 21 and 23, Myanmar Now writes. Among the victims is a seven-year-old girl who was sitting on her father’s lap when she was hit by a bullet. The child is the youngest victim of military violence so far. The shooting of the girl indicates a worrying new level of disregard for human life, the aid organization “Care” said. Save the Children estimated that more than 20 children have died since the coup, and that 17 are said to remain in custody.
The US and UK imposed further sanctions on Thursday targeting the economic resources of the new leadership apparatus. Affected are two holdings in which current or former military personnel owned all the shares and through which the armed forces controlled important economic sectors, according to the governments in Washington and London.
Myanmar’s Human Rights Rapporteur Tom Andrews called on the European Union, the US, China and the South East Asian Community of States (ASEAN) to do more. You should convene an emergency summit and invite the members of parliament from the overthrown National League for Democracy (NLD) ruling party. The parliamentarians have set up a government in exile.
“The limited sanctions imposed so far do not impede the junta’s access to revenues that help fund its illegal activities,” said the US human rights expert, who teaches at Yale and Harvard universities.