24 June 2008
A South Korean journalist was deported from Burma by the ruling military junta on 22 June 2008 for visiting the office of the opposition National League for Democracy.
Ms. Lee Yu Kyong, a freelance journalist from South Korea, was deported to Thailand.
“At about 7 am (Sunday), five policemen from Special Branch (a police unit in Rangoon) arrived at my hotel.
They asked me where I was on the 18th and 19th of June,” Lee was quoted by SEAPA Alerts partner Mizzima.com. “They told me that I had come here on a tourist visa, and said that it’s (therefore) illegal (to be visiting political groups). They said I shouldn’t have gone there with a tourist visa.”
Lee was able to contact the counselor of the South Korean embassy in Rangoon, but the Burmese police denied her request to meet with the Korean embassy officials. The police secured a plane ticket for the Korean journalist, and she was onboard a Bangkok-bound Thai Airways flight just three hours after she was taken from her hotel.
Before boarding her flight, Burmese officers took from Lee four CDs containing digital pictures of the devastation caused by Cyclone Nargis. Her laptop and cameras were not touched nor confiscated.
The South Korean counselor later told her that the Burmese officers had assumed that she was trying to meet detained NLD leader Daw Aung San Su Kyi.
Burma, already one of the most restrictive environments for media in the world, has been particularly strict in screening journalists since a violent crackdown on monks and activists in September 2007, and after the devastation wrought by Cyclone Nargis in May.
Lee said her main agenda as a journalist was to get to the Irrawaddy delta to cover the devastation by the killer cyclone. She said she went to the NLD office in Bahan Township in Rangoon on June 18 to get information about cyclone victims.
On June 19, she attended an activity celebrating the birthday of jailed NLD leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, where she witnessed the arrest of several members of the NLD.
“I took some photographs of the incident and maybe they [authorities] noticed me at that time,” Lee said.