Several private newspapers in Myanmar printed black front pages on Friday to protest the recent arrests and sentencing of journalists, in the latest sign the country’s media climate is worsening.
The black front pages — which included a protest message — in the influential Daily Eleven newspaper, its Sports journal and other papers follow a court decision Monday in which a video journalist for Democratic Voice of Burma was sentenced to one year imprisonment for trespassing and obstructing a civil servant while doing a story on education.
According to the BBC, several journalists have been arrested in recent months.
Myanmar has been undergoing a series of democratic reforms since a nominally civilian government came into power in 2011, replacing decades of military rule.
Since then, direct government censorship of the media has been abolished and privately-owned newspapers were allowed to operate for the first time in decades.
But correspondents say that journalists in the country still face some of the harshest restrictions in the world. (AP opened a bureau in Myanmar last year.)
Reporters Without Borders ranks Myanmar 145 out of 180 countries in its 2014 press freedom index.
Committee to Protect Journalists wrote about the case on April 7.
In February, journalists around the world took part in a social media campaign protesting the arrests of Al Jazeera journalists Peter Greste, Baher Mohamed and Mohammed Fahmy, who have been detained in Egypt since the end of last year.
— phnompenhpost (@phnompenhpost) February 27, 2014
Last November, French newspaper Libération ran an entire edition without photographs in solidarity with photojournalists, who “barely make a living.”
— BJPhoto – 1854 (@1854) November 15, 2013