An award-winning journalist and documentary filmmaker was sentenced to life in prison in Myanmar on Wednesday, according to media reports, marking yet another assault on press freedom by the country’s military since the 2021 coup.
Shin Daewe was sentenced to life in prison for allegedly violating Myanmar’s anti-terrorism law, her husband told the Burmese Service of VOA’s sister outlet Radio Free Asia.
Shin Daewe was arrested October 15 while picking up a video drone she had ordered online to use for filming a documentary, her husband, Ko Oo, said.
Police then interrogated the 50-year-old for almost two weeks before charging her and moving her to Myanmar’s infamous Insein Prison, Ko Oo said.
Shin Daewe was eventually tried by a secret military tribunal, her husband said, and was denied legal representation. He also told RFA that Shin Daewe appeared to have been tortured.
"When she returned, I didn't get access to her. But I heard that she had injured her head," Ko Oo said. "She had stitches on her head and welts on her arms. That means she was beaten.
Shin Daewe is known for her coverage of environmental issues in Myanmar, as well as the toll conflict takes on the country’s civilians.
She previously reported for the independent outlet Democratic Voice of Burma, including during Myanmar’s Saffron Revolution in 2007, before turning to make documentaries full-time starting in 2010.
Press freedom and human rights groups condemned Shin Daewe’s arrest and called for her immediate release.
"By sentencing a documentary film director to a life in prison under the pretext of terrorism, the military junta shows the extent of its arbitrariness and ruthlessness," Cedric Alviani, the Asia-Pacific director at Reporters Without Borders, told RFA.
Out of 180 countries, Reporters Without Borders ranks Myanmar 173 in terms of press freedom.
The post-coup crackdown on independent media in Myanmar has taken place against the backdrop of extreme violence perpetrated by the country’s military, which the U.N. Human Rights Office has said may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.