YANGON, Myanmar — Myanmar needs to investigate the arrests and alleged police beatings of journalists covering a demonstration against a new education bill, an international media organization said Tuesday, stressing the cycle of impunity needs to stop.
The reporters got caught in the middle of a violent confrontation between 500 baton-wielding police and 100 demonstrators who were trying to march from the town of Letpadan to country's biggest city of Yangon, 140 kilometers (90 miles) to the south.
Witnesses said police turned on the journalists, clubbing several and detaining two.
The International Press Institute's interim head, Barbara Trionfi, said Tuesday she was "shocked" and called on the government to investigate.
The Vienna-based organization will host its annual World Congress and General Assembly this month in Myanmar — a country that recently started moving from dictatorship to democracy. Though the media was an early beneficiary of the political reforms, critics say freedom of expression is again coming under threat.
A local journalists' network has threatened to boycott the meeting because of the recent attacks on journalists — including last week's — but the country's Information Minister Ye Htut said in a post on his Facebook page that their withdrawal from the event would have no impact.