Ethnic Journalists in Burma Still Unable to Report in Their Own Languages-kaowao

Ethnic Mon journalists in the southern areas of Burma still do not dare to establish a Mon media organization in Moulmein, the capital of Mon State, citing uncertainties about the current political situation

“We have to wait and see for a few months because the constitution mentions nothing about rights for ethnic languages,” said a senior Mon reporter from Mon State. “The lack of ethnic rights in the constitution is a big barrier, and we could get into trouble at any time if we set up our own media organization to report in our own language.”

“We have a dream of creating a [Mon] news agency [inside Burma]. However the situation is still too unstable to implement the plan,” said the source.

There are several Mon reporters who have been working secretly inside Burma since 2000. The undercover reporters collect news and images in Mon and Karen States, as well as Tennaserim Divison, and then smuggle the information to Mon media outlets outside the country, many based in Thailand.

“I know that that Mon citizens are hungry for not only daily Mon news, but also other publications in Mon language,” said the senior journalist.

Ethnic Mon representatives who are members of the National Parliament recently proposed legislation to allow the teaching of Mon language in schools in Mon areas, but the proposals were rejected.

Mon journalists inside Mon State said that this indicated the conditions that would allow them to freely work for Mon language media are not yet present.

Meanwhile, exile media organizations, both Burmese and ethnic, report that they are under the pressure from NGOs, which are focusing their funding on supporting journalism inside Burma. However, exiled journalists are hesitant to return to Burma while they continue to have doubts about the Burmese government’s sincerity towards democratic reforms and removing press restrictions.


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