Myanmar's media under pressure from all sides

Deutsche Welle (DW) * 

The Burmese military regime has routinely arrested journalists and banned independent media. But reporters continue to work underground — under pressure from the ruling junta, but also from the opposition.

Myanmar’s military government, which overthrew the elected government on February 1, continues to violently crack down on protesters and the opposition movement. At the same time, it has also been trying to gain control over information.

Step by step, authorities have restricted access to social media and the internet. On February 4, Facebook, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp were blocked, followed the day after by Twitter and Instagram. Blocking Facebook was a crucial move: about half of the country’s residents used the social media giant as their main news source.

The military has also imposed nationwide internet blockades since February 15, which have regularly lasted from 1 a.m. to 9 a.m. Mobile internet has been shut down since March 15, with only broadband connections providing access to the internet. For a few days now, the nightly shutdown has no longer applied to these connections. But the move worked: large parts of the population now receive their news almost exclusively from sources permitted by the military.

State media holds a monopoly

In addition to cutting off online communication, the state television station MRTV has been brought into line. The broadcaster now regularly shows photos of activists and demonstrators, naming them as alleged enemies of the state. Military broadcaster Myawaddy TV recently announced that for the first time in 30 years, 19 people had been sentenced to death for killing a soldier. And the state-owned newspaper The Global New Light of Myanmar has reported in detail the military’s legal and moral obligations for ousting the elected government.

Meanwhile, independent or private media outlets such as Mizzima, Democratic Voice of Burma, Khit Thit Media, Myanmar Now, 7Day News and others have been banned. Most have retreated to parts of the country controlled by ethnic minorities and their troops, such as Karen state on the border with Thailand. From there, they continue to publish their views against the military government.

Journalists are in hiding

According to Human Rights Watch, some 48 journalists are currently in detention; 23 others were detained but have since been released. Most have been accused of violating a new section of the penal code which criminalizes the dissemination of “statements, rumors or reports” that can lead to fear among the population and may incite people to “attack the state and public order” or to lead to “attacks between different classes and communities.”

DW spoke with several journalists, who cannot be named for security reasons. They have not slept in their homes for weeks, and fear being arrested during nightly searches by the military — as was the case with Kaung Myat Hlaing of the Democratic Voice of Burma. The journalist from the southern coastal town of Myeik livestreamed police shooting near his apartment as they detained him in a crackdown on March 1. He remains in custody.

“I’m doing well, so far,” one journalist told DW, who has moved from place to place living with other reporters. “But the nights have their terrors.” As soon as the barking of stray dogs or the banging of pots by neighbors announce that the military is moving into the neighborhood, they instantly turn off their computers and lights in the hope staying hidden.

“We talk a lot about work. It’s easier to bear the situation in a group,” one said. “But many journalist friends have left the military-controlled areas and taken off to support the underground or exile media.”

Underground media forced self-censor

But it’s not just the military putting pressure on the media. Most local media reporting from the underground cannot afford to take a neutral position on the situation without incurring the wrath of the protesters. For example: Instead of using the military government’s self-imposed name, “State Administrative Council,” they write “State Terrorist Council.” People are not “arrested” by the security forces, but “kidnapped.”

“It’s no longer possible to write a report or analysis without making a clear commitment to the revolution or the military,” one journalist told DW. The problem, he said, is that now many journalists no longer write what is happening, but what people want to hear.

Basically, he said, almost all local media outlets have an agenda: instead of journalism, it’s about activism. “I have decided to stop writing anything for the time being, because every statement is misinterpreted,” he said.

As a result of this polarization, only supporters of the military or supporters of the revolution get a chance to speak. But there are also people in Myanmar who, while not friends of the military, also don’t want a revolution. They fear the complete collapse of the state and years of chaos.

One university official told DW that he hoped the situation would soon stabilize, and that banks would reopen and it would finally be possible to go back to work. Even if that stabilization meant stopping the protests against the military.


*Germany’s international broadcaster. This article has been translated from German


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Declaración exhortando al cierre de la prisión de Guantánamo

Mesa de Reflexión Latinoamericana

Hemos conocido la propuesta de 24 senadores del Partido Demócrata formulada en carta pública dirigida al Presidente Joseph Biden pidiendo el cierre de la prisión establecida, en 2002, en la base naval de Guantánamo, Cuba. Tal iniciativa coincide con las recientes conclusiones de un grupo de expertos de Naciones Unidas, para quienes los cuarenta detenidos que aún viven allí se encuentran en lo que denominan un limbo legal, fuera del alcance del sistema judicial constitucional estadounidense.

Entendemos que esa solicitud de los legisladores apunta a reivindicar el respeto a la ley, la centralidad de los derechos humanos y de la democracia en la política interna e internacional de Estados Unidos. Sin embargo, tal decisión trascendería la dimensión local y enviaría un claro y significativo mensaje al mundo y a América Latina en particular, en cuyo territorio se encuentra establecida esa prisión.

La Mesa de Reflexion Latinoamericana considera que ese gesto, en hora tan crucial como la que vivimos, contribuiría a crear un nuevo espacio de conversación en el continente americano, en temas como el fortalecimiento de la democracia, el respeto de los derechos humanos, la desigualdad, la cooperación y el desarrollo, la transferencia de tecnología, y la re-estructuración del sistema interamericano, en la deliberación moderna, respetuosa e ineludible que se deben Estados Unidos y América Latina.

Por ello, los ex cancilleres, políticos y académicos convocados en esta circunstancia por la Mesa de Reflexión de América Latina vemos con interés y esperanza que esa propuesta llegue a concretarse. Éste puede ser un símbolo de gran valor en ese nuevo espacio de análisis de las relaciones interamericanas, en horas de incertidumbre y desafío. 30 de abril de 2021.

Suscriben esta declaración:

  1. Adins, Sebastien. Profesor. Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú.
  2. Adrianzén, Alberto. Ex Parlamentario Andino. Perú.
  3. Altman, Josette. Secretaria Ejecutiva. FLACSO. San José.
  4. Allende, Isabel. Senadora de la República. Chile
  5. Amaral, Sergio. Ex Embajador de Brasil en Estados Unidos y Reino Unido.
  6. Amorim, Celso. Ex Canciller y ex Ministro de Defensa. Brasil
  7. Aranibar, Antonio. Ex Canciller. Bolivia.
  8. Arocena, Rodrigo. Ex Rector, Universidad de la República. Uruguay
  9. Bergamino, Ariel. Ex Vice Canciller. Uruguay.
  10. Bernal Meza, Raúl. Profesor. Universidad del Centro. Argentina.
  11. Bielsa, Rafael. Ex Canciller. Argentina
  12. Bitar, Sergio. Ex Ministro de Educación y Obras Públicas. Ex Senador. Chile.
  13. Bittencourt, Gustavo, Profesor, Universidad de la República, Uruguay
  14. Borda, Sandra. Profesora. Universidad de los Andes. Colombia
  15. Bordón, José Octavio. Ex Senador. Argentina
  16. Caetano, Gerardo. Profesor. Universidad de la República. Uruguay.
  17. Carrión, Francisco. Ex Canciller. Ecuador.
  18. Chacón, Susana. Directora Centro Teploztan. México.
  19. Dada, Héctor. Ex Canciller. El Salvador.
  20. De la Puente, Juan. Profesor. Universidad San Martín de Porres. Perú.
  21. Devés-Valdés, Eduardo, Profesor, Universidad de Santiago, Chile
  22. Dussel Peters, Enrique, director Cechimex, UNAM, México
  23. Sergio Fajardo, ex candidato presidencial. Colombia
  24. Fernández, Gustavo. Ex Canciller. Bolivia.
  25. Fernández, Mariano. Ex Canciller. Chile.
  26. Ffrench – Davis, Ricardo, Premio Nacional de Humanidades, Chile
  27. Ferrero, Eduardo. Ex Canciller. Perú
  28. Gaitán, Pilar. Corporación la Paz Querida. Colombia
  29. García, Enrique. Ex Ministro Planeamiento. Ex Presidente CAF. Bolivia.
  30. García Sayán, Diego. Ex Canciller. Perú.
  31. González, Guadalupe. Profesora Asociada. Colegio de México.
  32. Grebe López, Horst. Ex Ministro de Desarrollo Económico. Bolivia.
  33. Heredia Zubieta, Carlos. Profesor Asociado. CIDE. México.
  34. Hirst, Mónica. Profesora. UTDT. IESP-UERJ. Brasil.
  35. Insulza, José Miguel. Senador. Ex Canciller de Chile
  36. Iturralde Ballivián, Carlos. Ex Canciller. Bolivia.
  37. Jarquín, Edmundo. Ex Candidato a la Presidencia. Nicaragua.
  38. Jordán Prudencio, Nicole. Coordinadora de Proyectos. FES. Bolivia
  39. Lafer, Celso. Ex Canciller. Brasil.
  40. Letelier, Juan Pablo. Senador de la República. Chile
  41. Lustig, Nora. Profesora. Universidad de Tulane.
  42. Malcorra, Susana. Ex Canciller. Argentina.
  43. Maurtua, Oscar. Ex Canciller. Perú
  44. Merke, Federico. Profesor. Universidad de San Andrés. Argentina.
  45. Mohar, Gustavo. Ex Subsecretario: Migración, Seguridad, Fronteras. México.
  46. Muñoz, Heraldo. Ex Canciller. Chile
  47. Morales Moreno, Isidro. Profesor Investigador. Tecnológico de Monterrey. México
  48. Murillo De La Rocha, Javier. Ex Canciller. Bolivia.
  49. Pachano, Simón, profesor de FLACSO, Ecuador.
  50. Pardo, Rodrigo. Ex Canciller. Colombia.
  51. Pastrana, Eduardo. Profesor, Universidad Javeriana. Colombia
  52. Pellicer, Olga. Ex Embajadora, Profesora, Investigadora. ITAM. México.
  53. Quijano, José Manuel. Ex Director. Secretarío General MERCOSUR. 
  54. Reyes Matta, Fernando. Ex Embajador. Profesor. Universidad Andrés Bello. Chile.
  55. Ricúpero, Rubens. Ex Ministro Hacienda. Secretario General. UNCTAD. Brasil.
  56. Rivas, Eda. Ex Canciller. Perú
  57. Edgardo Riveros, ex Viceministro de RR.EE. Chile
  58. Robledo, Marcos. Ex Subsecretario de Defensa. Chile.
  59. Rodríguez Cuadros, Manuel. Ex Canciller. Perú
  60. Rodríguez Gigena, Gonzalo. Ex embajador en Aladi. Uruguay
  61. Romani Gerner Milton, ex embajador ante OEA. Uruguay
  62. Romero, Carlos. Profesor. Universidad Central. Venezuela.
  63. Rojas Samanez, Fernando. Ex Vicecanciller. Perú.
  64. Rosales, Osvaldo. Ex embajador y ex Director Integración Económica CEPAL. Chile
  65. Roncagliolo, Rafael. Ex Canciller. Perú
  66. Russell, Roberto. Profesor. Universidad Torcuato Di Tella. Argentina.
  67. Salvador, María Isabel. Ex Canciller. Ecuador
  68. Santillán, Gustavo. Profesor, Universidad de Córdoba. Argentina
  69. Sepúlveda, Bernardo. Ex Secretario RR.EE. y Juez Corte Internacional de Justicia. México
  70. Siles, Juan Ignacio. Ex Canciller. Bolivia
  71. Silva Luján, Gabriel. ex ministro de Defensa; ex Embajador en EE.UU. Colombia
  72. Schiavon, Jorge A. Profesor, CIDE, México.
  73. Somavía, Juan. Presidente Foro Permanente Pol. Exterior, ex Director General OIT. Chile.
  74. Taiana, Jorge. Ex Canciller. Argentina.
  75. Tokatlián, Juan Gabriel. Profesor. Universidad Torcuato Di Tella. Argentina.
  76. Valdés, Juan Gabriel. Ex Canciller. Chile.
  77. Valdés Ugalde, José Luis. Profesor investigador. CISAN. UNAM. México.
  78. Van Klaveren, Alberto. Ex Viceministro Relaciones Exteriores. Chile.
  79. Vidarte, Oscar. Profesor. Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú.
  80. Zegada, María Teresa. Universidad Mayor de San Simón. Bolivia.


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