According to a report from The Irrawaddy, the Myanmar military is suing the media outlet until Article 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law for its coverage of recent clashes between the Army and the Arakan Army, an ethnic armed group in the ancient town of Mrauk-U in Rakhine state.
The Irrawaddy said that the military’s Yangon Region Command filed the case against the Burmese edition editor U Ye Ni on April 12. Kyauktada Police Station chief Po Htun told The Irrawaddy on Monday that Lieutenant Colonel Zaw Min Tun of the Yangon Region Command filed the case on behalf of Yangon military commander Major General Thet Pone. The editor was granted bail on the same day.
U Ye Ni said: “I feel sorry about the military’s misunderstanding of us. Journalism dictates that we reveal the suffering of people in a conflict area. Our intention behind the coverage is to push those concerned to solve the problems by understanding the sufferings of the people.”
This is the second time that the military has launched legal action against The Irrawaddy in the past three years. In June 2017 a reporter from the news organization and two others from Democratic Voice of Burma were detained by the military and charged under Article 17(1) of the Unlawful Association Act during a reporting trip to northern Shan State.
According to the IFJ report Underneath the Autocrats, in the past two years over 100 people have been charged under Article 66(d), the controversial Telecommunications Law. The majority of cases are journalists being sued for criminal defamation. The law is seen as an attempt to silence critical voices and intimidate the media.
The IFJ said: “The IFJ condemns the latest charge on the Irrawaddy and demand the withdrawal of all charges. We also urge Myanmar authorities to stop using Article 66(d) to suppress the media. The media has a duty to inform the public. It is important for everyone, including military high-ranking officials to respect and guarantee the rights and safety of journalists.”