IFJ Joins Calls to Free Video Journalists in Burma

 

The International Federation of

Journalists (IFJ) has joined 11 other media organisations fighting for freedom

of expression and freedom of the press in signing the following joint

statement. It calls on the Burmese government to put a stop to its harassment

and prosecution of journalists, and calling on the release of the Democratic

Voice of Burma's

Video Journalists.

 

www.freeburmavj.org

Despite

pledges by Burma’s

new government that it has begun the transition to civilian rule, 17 video

journalists (VJs) for the Oslo-based exiled media organisation, the Democratic

Voice of Burma (DVB), remain imprisoned. They are among nearly 2,100 political

prisoners in Burma,

a testament to the lingering hold of dictatorial rule on the country.

The journalists’ work has

included the documenting of scorched-earth tactics against ethnic minorities,

the killing of monks by Burmese troops, and the ineptitude of the regime

following cyclone Nargis in 2008.

DVB VJs have become a source of humiliation for the Burmese government, which

resides over one of the world’s most restrictive media environments. Rather

than being allowed to continue a service deemed an invaluable ingredient OF

democratic societies around the world, journalists are considered criminals who

warrant decades-long sentences.

We call on the Burmese government to put a stop to its harassment and

prosecution of journalists, who are forced to operate under strict control and

surveillance. There is evidence that despite pledges to the contrary, freedom

of the press and freedom of expression continue to deteriorate in Burma, with

regulations over access to the internet tightened and journalists now forced to

self-censor with greater intensity.

Reports from families of a number of the jailed VJs also suggest that torture

techniques have been used during the interrogation phase to extract information

about DVB’s operation and its network of undercover reporters, which number

close to 80. It was under torture that 21-year-old VJ Sithu Zeya was forced to

reveal that his father, Maung Maung Zeya, was also a member of DVB staff. They

are now serving eight and 13-year sentences respectively.

International bodies such as the United Nations, the Association of Southeast

Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the European Union must apply pressure on the Burmese

government to release all jailed journalists.


It is time for the Burmese government to acknowledge the important function of

independent journalism and the central role these journalists play in fostering

public discourses and the exchange of information in a free and democratic

society.

Signatories:



Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB)

Reporters Without Borders (RWB)

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)

Irrawaddy

Mizzima

Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA)

Article 19

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)

Burma Media Association (BMA)

Index of Censorship

Canadian Journalists for Free Excpression (CJFE)

International Press Institute (IPI)

 

For

further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +61 2 9333 0919

 

The

IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

 

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