WEDNESDAY, 18 NOVEMBER 2009 13:19
Burma News International (BNI), a network of 11 independent news organizations in exile, yesterday urged the country’s ruling military junta to ensure freedom of information gathering and reporting in the general elections slated for next year.
“Otherwise, it will not be considered free and fair and, as a result, rejected by the international community,” it warned.
The BNI, which held its three-day 14th bi-annual meeting, from November 15 to 17, also demanded the “unconditional and prompt release” of all journalists under detention and a suspension of news censorship.
Burma is infamous as one of the most inhospitable countries for journalists. Kenji Nagai, a Japanese photographer, was shot dead by junta’s soldiers during the 2007 Saffron Revolution.
The exact number of journalists detained by the regime has not been disclosed. Son Moe Way, a coordinator for the Burma Journalists Protection Committee (BJPC), said some of those detained by the military authorities on charges of activism are journalists.
“Revelation of their true identities will only lead to harsher punishments for them,” he told the meeting yesterday.
The BNI was formed in 2003 with the aim of “becoming a leading multimedia enterprise that presents a comprehensive picture of Burma and plays a role in promoting an understanding of the country.” Supporters of the network have pointed out its policy of inclusiveness and decentralization as its main strength.