Conflicts & War

Myanmar junta bans other media outlet in crackdown on independent press

Bangkok, Nov 1 (EFE).- The military junta in Myanmar has banned the digital newspaper The Irrawaddy, critical of the regime, on grounds of undermining “state security,” as a part of its crackdown on dissenting voices in the media in the Asian country.

“Since the coup, we could not continue working in Myanmar and we had to flee the country. The editors predicted that this would happen, and that is why we were able to keep working,” a reporter from The Irrawady, who asked not to be named, told EFE on Tuesday.

The Irrawaddy reported that the Ministry of Information revoked its license on Wednesday last week for allegedly undermining state security, the rule of law and public peace.

Although the measure has little effect on the publications of the media outlet – which has been operating from abroad since the coup – and is only accessible through VPNs, it increases pressure on journalists in Myanmar or their families.

“Right now, there is concern about the family members (of journalists) who are still in Myanmar. I can’t imagine what the junta could do to them,” said the reporter from the banned media outlet.

Nevertheless, the journalist stressed they would continue to publish news stories. “We left the country to write the news freely.”

With the official closure of The Irrawaddy, at least 14 media outlets have now been shut down by the military junta since seizing power last year, reflecting an increasingly deteriorating condition of press freedom.

Myanmar Now, Mizzima News and DVB are some of the more recognized media outlets that have been banned, along with other smaller ones.

“As many Burmese journalists say, press freedom has returned to the darkest years,” stressed the reporter.

Before the revocation of the license, The Irrawady website had already been banned and the media had been sued under article 505 (a) of the criminal code – one of the first approved by the junta – for supposedly ignoring the version of the authorities in their coverage of the anti-junta protests.

Founded in Thailand in 1993, The Irrawaddy moved to Myanmar in 2012 as a result of the country’s move towards democratization.

However, the military coup on Feb.1 last year forced the media entity to exit the country.

Amnesty International has said that since the coup the junta has de facto destroyed the independent press in the country by banning many media and arresting many journalists.

It has underlined that Myanmar is currently holds one of the largest number of media workers behind bars in the world.

In this regard, the nonprofit Committee to Protect Journalists underlined that in 2021, Myanmar was only behind China in the number of journalists imprisoned. EFE


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