30 September 2023

Misleading: This picture does not show a protester in Kalay, Myanmar, being shot with his hands raised

The posts claim the photo shows a man named Zin Myo Maung being shot in the town of Kalay in Myanmar. However, the photo was taken in Yangon, and the person shown in it was not him.

A photo showing a person with both hands up moving away from a uniformed individual holding a raised gun in Myanmar appeared in numerous social media posts on March 4.

It circulated on Twitter, Facebook and Reddit with a claim that the photo shows a protester named “Zin Myo Maung” (“ko” is an honorific for men in Burmese) being shot in the town of Kalay (also known as Kale) on March 2.

All these posts are misleading. The image is actually a cropped version of a photo taken in Yangon on Feb. 27, not in Kalay or on March 2.  Online image search shows the original photo was taken by European Photo Agency (EPA) photographer Lynn Bo Bo.

Protesters fleeing police, one with raised gun
The original EPA photo taken Feb. 27 in Yangon. Red box added to show where it was cropped.

According to the caption accompanying the original photo, as well as two other EPA photos taken in the same place by the same photographer, the images were taken while the police were firing teargas at protesters.

Two photos of police and protesters
Two additional EPA photos (left and right) taken by Lynn Bo Bo in the same location on Feb. 27.

A Facebook post by the Irrawaddy Burmese Edition and a report from the local news site Khonumthung News said that a protester named Zin Myo Maung was shot on March 2 and a person named Zin Myo Maung is included in a fatality list combined by a Myanmar human rights organization, Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

Facebook post with pictures of funeral car and crowds
Caption: A Facebook post by the Irrawaddy describing the funeral of Zin Myo Maung on March 5.

The same post from the Irrawaddy included photos of his funeral on March 5 in Kalay as well.

Annie Lab compared a photo of Zin Myo Maung that was seen in the video of his funeral (at 1:39) by another local media Chin World with the person who appeared in the photo taken in Yangon on Feb. 27.

While the face masks make definitive identification difficult, the photos do not appear to show the same person.

Our investigation was unable to determine the gender or identity of the person seen in the original photo.

Pictures comparing photo of person from funeral with picture taken in Yangon
A photo of Zin Myo Maung seen at his funeral (lower right; video capture) showed him holding a placard. Annie Lab was able to look for a clearer and bigger version of the photo (left) and compared it with the person in the photo taken in Yangon on Feb. 27 (upper right).