Myanmar journalists go into hiding after threats from junta over “incorrect” reporting

Fearing retribution after reporting that the Myanmar junta killed three civilians and wounded 19 others, journalists inside the country are going into hiding. The ruling military threatened to sue the news agencies for the reports that detail the killings as being near a Buddhist pagoda in Mon state last week. According to Radio Free Asia, BBC Burmese and The Irrawaddy online news journal, the military allegedly fired random shots into a crowd at the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, which is one of the most famous Buddhist sites in the country.

The regime subsequently blamed the attack on the anti-junta People’s Defence Force which is allied with the Karen National Liberation Army’s Brigade 1, the civilian National Unity Government and its parliamentary wing.

Irrawaddy and BBC Burmese reporters went into hiding after the junta released a statement that threatened to take action against the news outlets for “incorrectly” reporting on the October 12 incident. A relative of a BBC Burmese reporter told Radio Free Asia that all local BBC journalists, including the heads of the news agencies, are in hiding because of the junta’s threats.

“He [the reporter] won’t be able to stay here anymore since the junta started threatening to sue them all. He is afraid of being arrested, so he had to run away and hide.”

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“It is reported that The Irrawaddy and BBC Burmese news agencies, the blatant liars and the pessimist’s stooges, are going to be sued under the Electronic Communications Law, News Media Law, and the state defamation law for their accusation that the security forces randomly fired shots into crowds of pilgrims, a shameless act of violating media ethics.”

Local social workers, however, stood by their accounts of the junta killing three civilians. They say members of an unidentifiable armed group dressed in civilian clothes attacked the junta inspection facility at the foothill of the pagoda in Kin Mun Chaung village.

“At this moment, they are all in the hospital, three dead bodies included. We cannot go near them. I heard 13 were wounded.”

According to RFA, a local says more than 100 bullets and five artillery shells were fired during the hour-long battle with casualties on both sides. Myint Kyaw, a former secretary of the Myanmar Press Council says it is getting more difficult for journalists in Myanmar to do their jobs.

“In this difficult time of collecting news, to sue a news agency only because what it covers is considered untruthful is the junta’s direct threat against the media. As for BBC Burmese, this is the junta’s act to pressure the BBC to self-censor and adjust its editorial policy in favour of [the junta].”

Since the coup, the Myanmar junta has reportedly abolished 15 news agencies, two printing presses, and four book publishers.

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Ann Carter

Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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