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Military bans media outlets from publishing Kokang group’s statements.
The Military Authoritative Information Team today sent a letter to Myanmar Press Council (Interim) informing that the local news media outlets are not to cover any statements released by Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA).
The letter carried two points. The first point is that representatives from MNDAA (Kokang rebel group) are reported to have been attending the conference of the leaders of ethnic armed groups being held in Panghsan, Shan State (East). The second point states that as MNDAA is declared an unlawful association by the government, the news media outlets are barred from broadcasting or publishing MNDAA’s statements coming from the conference. The letter warned that any media outlet that fails to follow the instruction will face action in accord with the existing laws.
The warning letter is dated May 8, which falls on World Press Freedom Day. The letter said MNDAA is declared an unlawful organisation. According to the Unlawful Associations Act, anyone who contacts or assists the unlawful associations will face a three-year imprisonment under section 17(1) and a five-year imprisonment under section 17(2).
“From my point of view, there are two parts to consider: the criteria of press freedom and the country’s current situation. This declaration is unreasonable from the perspective of press freedom. It is not in line with the freedom of expression. This is from criteria viewpoint. When this is to be linked with the country’s present situation, Myanmar’s press freedom index is at the bottom of the list because it hasn’t been long that the military regime has shifted into a semi-civilian government. The military still intervenes in the political sphere. The attitude of the military is that this is their ‘Type Organisation’. The battles with the armed group called Kokang are different from those happened with other groups. There are conflicts and they are sensitive. So, I want to say that we need to keep on going cleverly in accord with the condition of the country and the standards of press freedom,” said Kyaw Min Swe, the secretary of the Myanmar Press Council (Interim).
“Other armed ethnic groups including MNDAA have been in attendance at Panghsan’s ethnic conference. If the media expresses the news released from MNDAA, action will be taken. Why is an action taken against other ethnic groups apart from the MNDAA? Taking actions against the media and not taking action against the ethnic groups are not fair. Therefore, the statements and announcements coming from Panghsan ethnic conference should not be recognised and actions should be taken against. It looks to be an indirect way to control the media. It can have negative effect on the media because it is useless for the law,” vice chairman Phoe Thawkyar of interim MPC said. cr. eleven media