The secretary of the military’s True News Information Team, Brigadier-General Zaw Min Tun, told a news conference in Naypyitaw on Tuesday that the media had exhausted the military’s patience, giving it no option but to take legal action.
“This [the military’s series of recent lawsuits against media organizations and critics] is a response to our grievances. If we remained silent, they would just take advantage of that [to commit more offenses],” he said in response to reporters’ questions after a “four pillars” meeting of representatives of the media and the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government.
The military recently sued The Irrawaddy News and Radio Free Asia (RFA) for defamation over their coverage of recent clashes between the Myanmar Army and the Arakan Army, an ethnic armed group, in Rakhine State.
The military said the cases were opened because the media organizations’ coverage was unfair.
“We will continue with the cases as per the law,” Brig-Gen. Zaw Min Tun added.
Asked why the military has resorted to taking action under controversial laws instead of the country’s media law, he said the latter only requires offenders to pay a fine, adding that this was not a harsh enough penalty.
The military’s ire has not been limited to the news media. Since the second week of this month, senior military officials have opened cases against several critics including an activist, a human rights film director and student activists. The activists and director were detained soon after charges were filed against them.