Myanmar: Three journalists sued for reporting farmer protest

Myanmar’s military has launched legal action against three local journalists following their reporting of a farmer protest in the Kayah State capital, Loikaw. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns the action and urges all the charges to be dropped.

Farmers working in Naypyidaw, capital city of Myanmar. Thet Aung/AFP.

On 19th June, Captain Aung Myo Tun from Myanmar’s military filed a lawsuit with Demoso Township Police Station under Article 12 of the Law Protecting the Privacy of Security and Citizens against 12 people. This included three journalists working for the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), Eleven Media Group, and Kantarawady Times.

According to reports, the battalion had taken possession of the village area in 1989 without giving compensation to villagers. The latest protest was staged after the military was said to have taken more land and fenced off the route to the area’s farms. The three journalists were producing real-time reports from the scene of the farmer protest, but were allegedly accused of assisting the farmer protest.

According to the military, the farmers allegedly trespassed the battalion complex and damaged its fence and a windbreak of trees. Under Myanmar’s privacy law, the journalists could face up to five years in prison and a fine of between 500,000 and 2.5 million kyats (USD 330 to USD1600) if found guilty.

DVB and Eleven Media have sought the intervention of the Myanmar Press Council. On 25th June, the Myanmar Press Council sent a letter to the military chief advising that the Media Law was the appropriate avenue for resolution of the issue on the media workers’ actions, not use of the privacy law.

The Media Law requires any grieved parties to seek Press Council mediation before opening a legal case.

The IFJ said: “The military must immediately drop all charges in this matter and any complaint should be submitted to the Myanmar Press Council. These reporters were simply doing their job to report from the scene of a protest, but what we have is yet another case of excessive intimidation by law to silence and repress the media.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on [email protected]

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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