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The military junta in Myanmar is upping the ante by locking up journalists

The plight of refugees who have fled conflict zones have their own numbing stories that many in the outside world do not wish to hear. At times nation states promote terror outfits knowing full well their modus operandi especially in civilian areas.

Protesters with anti-coup slogans at Mandalay, Myanmar yesterday. Source: Twitter/ @Chanapai247

It is quite unfortunate that nothing to do with Myanmar resonates positively and much of this because of the attitude of the brass hats in power since Feb. 1 dislodging a civilian arrangement just because it feared its own standing in government and the power structure following the elections of late last year. First this week came the news from the United Nations that the horrific goings on in that small southeast Asian country could amount to “crimes against humanity” that could result in international prosecution; and secondly the conviction and sentencing of an American journalist Danny Fenster for 11 long years in prison with hard labor on trumped up charges. He was languishing in jail for the last six months from the time he was picked up while trying to board a flight back home to the United States.

American journalist Danny Fenster. Source: Facebook/ Danny Fenster

The frightening part of Fenster’s conviction is that his sentencing has only to do with three relatively “minor” offences—incitement, unlawful association and immigration. Only recently Fenster was charged with two “big” ones—attempting to bring hatred, contempt or disaffection toward government and the military; and “contact” with officially designated terrorist groups. If convicted under these charges Fenster could effectively be in jail for life. What is bothersome is that the journalist’s trial is being conducted by a military court with the public barred from attendance. Phil Robertson, the deputy director for Asia at Human Rights Watch calls the sentencing of Fenster a “travesty of justice executed by a kangaroo court operating at the beck and call of the Myanmar military junta.”

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