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International body condemns media restrictions in Myanmar

WebdeskMar 30, 2021, 12:06 PM IST

International body condemns media restrictions in Myanmar

Guwahati: The Geneva-based media rights body Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) strongly condemns the ongoing violence and restrictions imposed on media outlets, internet users in Myanmar (earlier known as Burma). The international body however welcomes the recent release of journalist Thein Zaw from detention after three weeks. Associated with Associated Press, Zaw was arrested on 27 February for covering a protest against the military junta that has grabbed power in NayPieTaw on 1 February 2021. He had to observe his 33rd birthday inside Insein Prison of Yangon, a notorious place for detaining political prisoners for decades. Even though he was charged with violating public orders, the court dropped all charges stating that Zaw was doing his job at the time of the arrest. “PEC is relieved that Thein Zaw has been freed from the prison, but additional journalists there remain detained. We urge Myanmar to release all journalists and allow them to report freely and safely on what is happening inside the country. After all, these acts of intimidation must stop and freedom of expression must be fully restored,” said Blaise Lempen, secretary-general of PEC (https://pressemblem.ch/). Since the first week of February, the southeast Asian nation continues to witness protest demonstrations by common people under the civil disobedience movement. Called by the jailed National League for Democracy (NLD) chief Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to oppose the armed forces (popularly known as Tatmadow), which overthrew a democratically elected government alleging voting frauds, the movement is spread across the country. Armed military personnel have taken lethal attacks on the demonstrators resulting in the killings of over 450 people and injuring thousands other in various parts of Myanmar. On Saturday alone, the military regime under the leadership of Myanmar’s top army general Min Aung Hlaing, killed at least 114 protestors. Reporters, photo journalists, camera persons, etc are also being targeted by the military for covering the pubis unrest. Around 40 journalists were detained and half of them are still behind bars till date. Amidst the military crackdowns over the peaceful demonstrators for a comprehensive multi-party democracy in Myanmar, senior journalist Soe Myint, who leads Mizzima Media, commented that the military personnel must go back to their barracks. Participating virtually in a recent session of Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand (FCCT) on Myanmar crisis, Myint asserted that it is now a frontal war between the Tatmadow and common Burmese people (no longer remains as military verses NLD/ Suu Kyi). “We apprehended this kind of adverse situation (read military coup) and were ready to face the consequences. However it is always our duty to report about our country and citizens irrespective of any circumstance or its aftermath,” said Myint, who edits both English and Burmese version of Mizzima newspapers, free-to-air Mizzima TV, digital daily newspapers, adding that he may be arrested tomorrow by the military or even get killed by their thugs, but he can not surrender to the military junta. Moderated by Gwen Robinson, FCCT president and editor-at-large of Nikkei Asia, the session comprised speakers Sonny Swe (co-founder and publisher of Frontier Myanmar), Thiha Saw (veteran journalist and former editor Myanmar Times), Cape Diamond (freelancer), Poppy McPherson (Reuters Myanmar bureau-chief), Jonathan Head (BBC southeast Asia correspondent) etc, where Myint admitted that he may go for exile once again in the neighbouring countries (including Bharat) if the situation demands. “Today, most of the Burmese journalists are working from hideouts to avoid the assaults from the military personnel. Their offices remain locked as many media outlets have faced the cancellation of registrations by the authority,” said PEC’s Bharat representative, adding that the scribes and young social media users have taken the responsibility to raise voices against the atrocities of military rulers from undisclosed locations inside and outside the golden land of pagodas.

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