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Journalist working for German Press Agency dpa arrested in Myanmar

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dpa/GNA – A Polish journalist working for the German Press Agency dpa in Myanmar, has been arrested by security forces.

Robert Bociaga was detained by soldiers in Taunggyi, the capital of Shan State on Thursday, the portal Myanmar Mix, the news company Khit Thit Media and numerous users on social networks reported.

The 30-year-old was also allegedly beaten and injured, a Khit Thit Media reporter said on Facebook. Photos showed Bociaga being surrounded by soldiers in uniform and holding up his hands protectively.

The German Press Agency dpa is not currently in contact with Bociaga.

“The arrest and apparent mistreatment of Robert Bociaga is deeply upsetting. We are greatly concerned for our colleague,” dpa Editor-in-Chief Sven Goesmann said, adding that dpa condemns the action and calls on those responsible to release the journalist immediately.

“This is an intolerable, unacceptable attack on the freedom to report the news – and in its brutality is, unfortunately, not an isolated case,” Goesmann said.

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The Polish Foreign Ministry confirmed the arrest of a Polish journalist. The Polish consulate in Thailand and the German consulate in Myanmar had confirmed this information, the ministry said in a statement quoted by the newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza.

Every effort would be made to contact the detainee to help him and obtain information about his health and legal situation.

A German Foreign Ministry spokesperson said the ministry knew of the case and was working to ensure consular support reached the journalist.

Reporters without Borders demanded Bociaga’s immediate release as well as freedom for all media representatives arrested since the coup in early February.

“Journalists must be free to report on the developments in the country and the protests. We strongly condemn the army’s actions against media workers,” said Christian Mihr, head of the non-profit’s German branch. “After the military coup, press freedom in Myanmar was set back 10 years in just a few days.”

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Security forces in Myanmar have been cracking down with increasing severity not only on demonstrators, but also on journalists.

Many local journalists have been arrested, and a few days ago, the new military leadership revoked the licenses of several important media companies.

On Friday, a court in Myanmar extended the pre-trial detention period of a journalist working for the Associated Press who was arrested while covering a demonstration in late February, the news agency reported. Thein Zaw was one of nine journalists detained during a protest on February 27 in Yangon, AP said.

Until now, however, foreigners were considered to be relatively safe.

One Japanese journalist had been arrested in February, but he was released after a short time.

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