A BBC reporter in Myanmar has been jailed for three months with hard labor after being convicted of assaulting a police officer while covering a student protest, his lawyer said yesterday.
The ruling marks the first time a journalist has been convicted under Myanmar’s new government, run by former political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi.
The reporter, Nay Myo Lin, who works for the BBC Myanmar language service, plans to appeal the decision.
His lawyer, Thein Than Oo, called the sentence “unfair,” saying that his client had not intentionally hurt the policeman and was trying to help a fellow citizen.
“It is shameful that the court has issued this sentence,” Thein Than Oo said. “The police should not treat journalists as their enemy.”
The incident occurred in March last year when Nay Myo Lin was covering a protest near Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city, against an education bill that students said was aimed at stifling academic freedom. A policeman knocked a protester off his motorbike and Nay Myo Lin tried to help the man, leading to a scuffle with the officer, Thein Than Oo said.
Nay Myo Lin was convicted of assaulting a public servant and sentenced on Monday by a court in the city of Mandalay.
“The BBC will continue to work with his lawyer to support his appeal,” the BBC said in a statement issued on Monday in London.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy, won a landslide victory in November last year elections, ushering in the country’s first civilian government after 54 years of direct and indirect military rule. Both the police and the judiciary are overseen by the Burmese Ministry of Home Affairs, which remains under control of the military.
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