Myanmar journalists quit as military regime tighten grip on media
Yangon – Eleven members of the Myanmar Press Council and more than a dozen journalists at a major English-language, The Myanmar Times, have left their jobs in the face of new restrictions by the military regime that threaten media freedom.
According to news website The Irrawaddy, the military-run Ministry of Information on February 13 issued directives to Myanmar Press Council, a media adjudication body that investigates and settles press disputes, urging the media to report “ethically” and “avoid instigating public unrest.”
The directives, which quickly went viral online, stated that some newspapers, weeklies and online media “wrongly” use “regime” for the junta’s governing body, the State Administrative Council (SAC), “which was constitutionally formed by the military.”
“So, journalists and media are informed not to use ‘regime or junta’ for the SAC, which is [acting in accordance with] the State of Emergency provision; and not to instigate public unrest while following media ethics on reporting,” according to the directives.
In response, eleven members of the Myanmar Press Council announced Wednesday that they have resigned from the council because the military is trying to prescribe laws restricting media freedom.
U Myint Kyaw, joint secretary of the council, said that after the coup the council has been facing difficulties in its efforts to protect journalists who have been detained, arrested and beaten in recent days.
“It is not easy to protect the journalists despite [the fact that] we are the council members. It is not good for us and media. This is why, we resigned from the council,” said U Myint Kyaw.
At The Myanmar Times, more than a dozen journalists — including several of the newsroom’s leading editors — left their jobs after facing what they viewed as censorship by the management team.
The move came on Tuesday after the newspaper’s management forced one of its journalists to attend a press conference held by the military regime, despite the fact that all newsroom staff members had decided to boycott the press conference. Most of Myanmar’s media boycotted the press conference.
The Myanmar Times is the one of the oldest privately owned and operated English-language newspapers in Myanmar.