Myanmar: Black 'protest' covers on major daily papers

Daily Eleven's black front cover In December, a reporter from the Daily Eleven was also convicted for trespassing

Major daily newspapers in Myanmar (also known as Burma) have printed black front covers, apparently in protest against a jail sentence recently handed down to a journalist.

Friday's cover of The Daily Eleven newspaper is black above the fold, while the Mizzima Daily has a black panel running down the left side of the page. On its Facebook page, the Democratic Voice of Burma has posted a black cover image with the message "Journalism is not a crime."

The newspapers are protesting against a one-year jail sentence given to U Zaw Pe, a reporter for the Democratic Voice of Burma, on Monday. He was charged with trespassing and disturbing a civil servant after visiting the department of education in Magwe District to do an interview about a Japanese-funded scholarship programme, the Democratic Voice of Burma says.

"It is my job to interview," says Zaw Pe. "Prosecuting journalists... will prevent them from approaching government offices in the future. It will compromise the balance of news." He was sentenced along with U Win Myint Hlaing, reportedly the father of a student wanting to know more about the programme.

Several journalists have received similar convictions in recent months, raising questions over whether media reforms in Myanmar will be effective.

Democratic Voice of Burma's Facebook cover page reads "Journalism is not a crime! #FreeZawPhay" The Facebook cover page of the Democratic Voice of Burma joined the newspaper protest

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