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UNESCO condemns killing of journalist in Myanmar

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Dusk approaches in Yangon, Myanmar. (file photo)

Authorities in Myanmar are being urged to conduct a full investigation into the killing of a journalist last month, reportedly during an army attack in the southeast, the UN’s educational and cultural agency, UNESCO, said on Wednesday. 

Audrey Azoulay, the UNESCO Director-General, denounced the killing of Sai Win Aung, also known as A Sai K, who died on 25 December in Lay Kay Kaw, a town located near the border with Thailand. 

The reporter was covering the plight of refugees in Kayin state for the Federal News Journal when he was fatally shot in an artillery attack carried out by Myanmar’s armed forces, UNESCO said, citing reports. 

Protection for journalists 

“I condemn the killing of Sai Win Aung. Media workers like Sai Win Aung risk their lives to keep the public informed. Their work deserves to be recognized and their safety protected in line with international humanitarian law, which forbids attacks on civilians”, Ms. Azoulay said. 

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Sai Win Aung was the second journalist killed in Myanmar during December 2021, according to UNESCO, which supports press freedom by advocating for the safety of journalists and combatting impunity for those who attack them. 

The UN continues to monitor developments in the southeast Asian country in the wake of the military coup nearly a year ago, which has sparked protests and unrest. 

Rising violence, displacement 

Armed resistance against the junta, known as the State Administration Council (SAC), has increased, according to media reports. 

In a recent update, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said conflict has intensified over the past month, with increased reports of army raids across Myanmar, especially in the northwest and southeast regions. 

Since the army takeover, Lay Kay Kaw “has become one of the hideouts for pro-democracy activists and civil servants from the State Administration Council (SAC),” the agency said.  “As a result of the raids and ensuing conflict, hundreds of people were displaced.” 

UNHCR reported that Thailand confirmed some 4,600 people from Myanmar have fled the recent escalation around the town since mid-December, some of whom voluntarily returned. 

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