Burma’s Interim Press Council to Meet Thein Sein

By The Irrawaddy 31 July 2014

RANGOON—Burma’s interim Press Council will meet with the country’s president this week for the second time, according to council members.

The council requested the meeting on July 14 and also wrote to Parliament urging for it to intervene over what it says are growing threats to media freedom in Burma.

Council member Thiha Saw told The Irrawaddy that the group of veteran journalists had been granted a meeting with President Thein Sein in Naypyidaw at 9am on Friday.

“We requested to meet him this month. The president responded to our request earlier this week, so the eight members of the council, including myself, will see him,” said Thiha Saw, the former editor-in-chief of the now-defunct Myanma Freedom Daily and current editorial director at the Myanmar Times.

The meeting has been scheduled to discuss the overall situation of media in Burma, according to Zaw Thet Htwe, another member of the interim Press Council.

“Our discussion will be ranging from trust building among media and the other estates to difficulties in news gathering to harsh punishments [against journalists] to activating the Press Law,” he said.

The council’s request for a meeting shortly followed the sentencing of four journalists and a journal’s CEO for reporting on an alleged chemical weapons factory, the threat of charges against journalists protesting those sentences, and a case that is being brought against the Bi Mon Te Nay journal. After receiving a letter from the interim Press Council, Parliament Speaker Shwe Mann urged Thein Sein to show “tolerance” toward the media.

The meeting with Thein Sein follows a preliminary July 21 meeting with then Information Minister Aung Kyi—who resigned from the post this week—Zaw Thet Htwe added.

The interim Press Council and the president met in 2013 for the first time to discuss the Press Law, which has since been drafted by the council and enacted by the government.