A journalist from the Burmese BBC service was taken by unidentified men to Myanmar as unrest and protests against the February coup swept through the country.
According to some information, at least eight people died during the last demonstrations, this Friday (19), carried out in several cities. Aung Thura was taken away by men in civilian clothes as she appeared before a court in the country’s capital, Naypyitaw.
Thura was taken away with another journalist, Than Htike Aung, who works for the local newspaper Mizzima. Mizzina’s operating license was revoked earlier this month by the military government that took control of the country.
The men who took the reporters away arrived in an unmarked van around noon local time on Friday. The BBC has not been able to contact Aung Thura since.
“The BBC takes the safety of all its staff in Myanmar very seriously and we are doing everything possible to locate Aung Thura,” the broadcaster said in a statement.
“We are asking the authorities to help him locate him and confirm that he is safe. Aung Thura is a BBC accredited journalist with many years of experience covering events in Nay Pyi Taw.”
Forty journalists have been arrested since the military coup, which resulted in the arrest of elected civilian leaders, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. Sixteen journalists remain in custody and the military has revoked the licenses of five media companies.
The eight people killed on Friday were shot dead by security forces in Aungban town, according to local media and a funeral director. “The security forces came to remove the barriers, but people resisted and they fired,” a witness told Reuters.
According to some reports from the city of Rangoon, the streets are congested as many people try to escape the violence in the main city of the country. Police are also reportedly forcing people to remove barricades erected by protesters.
Post-coup violence has killed at least 232 Burmese to date, according to a group of activists from the Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners. One of the bloodiest days was March 14, when 38 people were killed.
Myanmar became independent from Britain in 1948. For much of its modern history, it was under military rule. Restrictions began to ease from 2010, leading to free elections in 2015 and the installation of a government led by Aung San Suu Kyi the following year.
In 2017, the Burmese military responded to attacks on police by Rohingya militants with severe repression, causing deaths and forcing more than 500,000 Rohingya Muslims to cross the border into Bangladesh, what the UN called more later a “classic example of ethnic cleansing”.