Myanmar junta jails filmmaker for life

BANGKOK, Jan 11: The award-winning documentary filmmaker Shin Daewe has been sentenced to life imprisonment in Myanmar, reported German news agency (dpa). 

A court controlled by the military junta found the 50-year-old guilty of violating the country’s anti-terrorism law on Wednesday, a family member and local media reported. 

According to The Irrawaddy newspaper, she was accused of “financing and abetting terrorism”. She was detained in Yangon (formerly Rangoon) in October when she went to pick up a drone on Oct 15, 2023, for filming.

“She is just a prominent filmmaker and respected artist. To serve this life-long sentence is not fair for her because she is only making films,” her younger brother, Myint Thu, told German news agency (dpa).

Shin Daewe won several awards with her documentary film Now I Am 13 from 2013. The film tells the story of a teenager from central Myanmar who is denied access to education due to her family’s poverty. It won awards at both the Kota Kinabalu International Film Festival and Wathann Film Festival in Myanmar in 2014.

In total, Daewe has made more than 15 short documentaries that have been shown at international film festivals.  

Since the coup in February 2021, the junta has brutally cracked down on all opponents and critics. Arbitrary arrests and long prison sentences have been handed down. The ousted former head of government, Aung San Suu Kyi, is also in prison.

According to the rights group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, at least 4,307 people were killed, and more than 25,785 people were arrested since the coup.