Media Association Concerned About Restrictions in Karenni State

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By Kantarawaddy Times

Thursday, April 25, 2024

The Independence Myanmar Journalist Association (IMJA) has requested the Karenni State Interim Executive Council (IEC) to reconsider or remove restrictions placed on media groups seeking to report on the situation in Karenni and southern Shan states.

In an open letter, IMJA urged dialogue with the IEC to collaboratively find solutions that ensure the security and independence of journalists working in Karenni State, based on media ethics.

Ko Moe, from IMJA’s information department, stated, “Our public will decide whether journalists follow journalistic ethics. We need not fear if we are doing the right things. If a media group is found to be in error, other media groups, journalists, and the people will hold them accountable.” He explained that IMJA already has a disciplinary commission prepared to address any complaints.

One of the IEC’s guidelines prohibits actions that could disrupt the operational and administrative workings of Karenni State or endorse the junta during the ongoing revolution, notwithstanding the inherent right of all media outlets to report in the region.

Many other journalists have also criticized IEC’s 8-point directive for the media.

Ko Moe expressed concern that the IEC’s new rules, which includes journalists wearing a press badge when in the region, could jeopardize the security and freedom of journalists. According to the regulations, journalists must seek permission before collecting news from the area.

Although IMJA has not met with the IEC to discuss the matter, U Banyar, IEC secretary, stated they are open to dialogue on the issue. “Regarding our statement, we understand that many media groups are concerned and have criticized us,” he said, adding they are willing to meet with media representatives and IMJA to find a solution.

According to U Sein Win, managing editor of Mizzima News, “Revolutionary groups must control their soldiers to prevent human rights abuses. At the same time, they must allow journalists access to information. They must strike a balance. Essential military news can leak out and cause loss of life during the revolutionary period. Therefore, journalists must adhere to ethics and take responsibility for reporting factual information.”

The Karen National Union also recently introduced new instructions for news reporting in its area of control. Journalists must request permission from its central headquarters before accessing KNU territory, which is near Karenni State. IMJA has yet to formally respond to the KNU’s new mandate for journalists.

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