Myanmar Arrests Journalists Who Reported a Secret Chemical-Arms Site

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Global Security Newswire Staff
Feb. 4, 2014, 6:43 a.m.

My­an­mar has ar­res­ted a group of journ­al­ists con­nec­ted to a re­cent re­port about an al­leged chem­ic­al-arms pro­duc­tion plant in the South­east Asi­an na­tion.

Over the week­end, the My­an­mar Po­lice Force’s Spe­cial Branch took in­to cus­tody four journ­al­ists and the head of the small journ­al Unity, the Straits Times re­por­ted on Tues­day. The me­dia per­son­nel have been ac­cused of re­veal­ing state secrets.

The Unity re­port about the al­leged chem­ic­al plant, loc­ated in My­an­mar’s cent­ral Mag­we re­gion, con­tained pho­to­graphs and de­tailed a “secret chem­ic­al weapon fact­ory of the former gen­er­als, Chinese tech­ni­cians and the com­mand­er-in-chief at Pauk Town­ship,” ac­cord­ing to a sum­mary by Ir­rawaddy magazine.

The so-called “24” fa­cil­ity re­portedly was es­tab­lished in 2009 as part of a num­ber of fa­cil­it­ies con­nec­ted by about 1,000 feet of tun­nels. Unity re­por­ted that area res­id­ents had spot­ted Chinese work­ers at the plant.

Im­me­di­ately pri­or to his Sat­urday ar­rest, Unity CEO Tint San said he had proof that the art­icle’s as­ser­tions were true: “I went to the fact­ory my­self. “We have con­crete evid­ence. I even left out some facts that might dis­close state secrets. … I’m ready to face whatever hap­pens in the fu­ture.”

The journ­al is­sue has been re­moved from magazine stands.

There have been pre­vi­ous re­ports, though nev­er con­firmed, of chem­ic­al arms sites in My­an­mar, which is not a mem­ber of the Chem­ic­al Weapons Con­ven­tion. There also have been un­con­firmed re­ports of gov­ern­ment troops last year us­ing tox­ins against Kachin rebels in the coun­try’s north.

Un­der the former rul­ing mil­it­ary junta, there were con­cerns about My­an­mar re­search­ing nuc­le­ar weapons with as­sist­ance from North Korea. In re­cent years, the cur­rent nom­in­ally ci­vil­ian-led gov­ern­ment has worked hard to con­vince the in­ter­na­tion­al com­munity it has no in­terest in nuc­le­ar arms or oth­er un­con­ven­tion­al weapons.

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