Press freedom “under threat” in new Myanmar

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-40448504

Under the military junta that ruled Myanmar for nearly 50 years, the media were tightly controlled.

But after a quasi-civilian government took over in 2011, many curbs were lifted and a rigid censorship regime abolished.

Journalists were among masses of political prisoners released, and media outlets mushroomed to serve a highly literate population that had been starved of independent news.

When the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Laureate kept under house arrest for years because of her democratic activism, won historic elections in 2015, many expected more media freedom would follow.

But journalists and press freedom advocates are alarmed by what they say is an increasingly heavy-handed approach, especially on matters of sensitivity to the military, which retains significant power.

The latest case involves three journalists arrested by the military on 26 June after watching the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), a rebel group, burn drugs in north-eastern Shan State.

Aye Nai, 53, and Pyae Phone Naing, 24, report for the Democratic Voice of Burma broadcaster, while Lawi Weng, 38, works for The Irrawaddy news magazine and website. Both outlets were run by exiles who fled during the junta era to report on abuses in the then pariah state, and who returned home after reforms in 2012.

The trio were handed to police and charged under the colonial-era Unlawful Associations Act for having alleged contact with the TNLA, which the army has recently been clashing with and describes as a “terrorist” group. They could face up to three years in prison, and a close aide of Ms Suu Kyi has defended the charges.

“It’s true that they broke the law by going to meet ethnic groups,” Win Htein, a former political prisoner, said.

Yet the case has caused uproar because many journalists have met TNLA rebels without facing prosecution, and the group came into direct contact with reporters and officials when it attended peace talks in May in the capital, Naypyitaw.

Lawi Weng is well-respected for his reporting on ethnic armed groups around Myanmar.

His fiancée, Loa Htaw, told Reuters news agency that he was well aware that he could be jailed for reporting on such issues, and criticising both the military and government.

But “he needs to report for the voiceless and the powerless”, she said.

———–

“When the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Laureate kept under house arrest for years because of her democratic activism, won historic elections in 2015, many expected more media freedom would follow.”

suckers..

“But journalists and press freedom advocates are alarmed by what they say is an increasingly heavy-handed approach, especially on matters of sensitivity to the military, which retains significant power.”

401

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~ by seeker401 on July 7, 2017.

One Response to “Press freedom “under threat” in new Myanmar”

  1. Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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