RANGOON – A campaign against the mistreatment of journalists is gaining steam among Burma’s private publishers, with six more media outlets joining a boycott of government-related media and press events.
The campaign, spearheaded by the Myanmar Journalists Network (MJN), began in response to the beating and detention of journalists covering a police crackdown on student demonstrators in Letpadan, central Burma, in early March.
Some participating media outlets have vowed not to report news items published by the President’s Office, the Ministry of Information or the Ministry of Home Affairs during some publishing cycles.
MJN general secretary Myint Kyaw told The Irrawaddy that all participants in the movement will boycott the upcoming International Press Institute (IPI) World Congress and Assembly and will not report any government-related information published in state media for the duration of the conference.
The event, titled “On the Path to a Free Media,” will be held in Rangoon from March 27 to 29 and has a registration fee of around US$1,300. Minister of Information Ye Htut is scheduled to address attendees.
The Messenger, Eleven Media Group, Myanmar Post, Burma Age, Tomorrow and Venus Journal have joined the boycott. MJN director Myint Kyaw told The Irrawaddy that the group will continue to round up support in the coming weeks.
Kyaw Soe Lin, editor-in-chief of the Myanmar Post Journal, said he joined the movement because violence against and detention of journalists “is a concern for the entire media.”
“We are running this campaign to denounce the deliberate beating of journalists during the Letpadan crackdown,” Kyaw Soe Lin said.
The Myanmar Post was an early participant in the initial campaign, publishing a large black box on the front page of its March 16 edition. Several other journals have since followed suit with similar blacked-out covers.
At least two journalists were detained during the violent dispersal of student protests on March 10, and many others were hit by police batons, rocks and other objects. The two detained journalists have since been released.