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AP: Myanmar military is disappearing young men to crush uprising

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Victoria Milko and Kristen Gelineau were the first to report that Myanmar’s military had abducted thousands, especially young men and boys, in a bid to break the back of the three-month uprising against the country’s military coup.

The story was difficult to report, given the military’s targeting of journalists in Myanmar and the fact that the junta keeps cutting internet access. Milko and Gelineau worked with a brave stringer in Myanmar who identified more than 20 cases of abductions. Those, along with the contributions of another courageous stringer, supplied the story’s main subjects. The pair also analyzed more than 3,500 arrests collected by a non-profit group, revealing that many of the disappeared were young men and boys, and that in most cases their families did not know where they were.

The story broke ground not only in terms of news, but in the previously unreported depth and detail of the cases they described. Milko and Gelineau also took particular care not to put either our staffers or our sources into danger. For example, their reporting did not rely on our staff in Myanmar, and they used Milko’s location, Jakarta, as the dateline. They also used partial names for most of the subjects to protect them from retaliation.

The story was among the top 10 on the AP News app and generated strong reactions from observers, readers and, significantly, Myanmar’s military, which was concerned enough to hold two rare news conferences: one when AP asked for comment and another after the story ran, with Gelineau the only reporter present from a Western news organization.

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Blood stains are spot the floor following a raid by Myanmar’s security forces on an auto body shop in Yangon, Myanmar., in a March 21, 2021 photo obtained by the AP. The security forces shot a 15-year-old boy in the hand during the raid and hauled him away along with three other young men from the shop. The teen’s family says they were told he has been sentenced to three years in prison, one of thousands who have been arrested in a sweeping campaign by Myanmar’s military to break the back of the uprising. – AP photo
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