Myanmar Junta Leader Warns Media Against Using ‘Junta’ or ‘Regime’

By The Irrawaddy 23 February 2021

Yangon – Myanmar’s coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing has again told publications that they will lose their publishing licenses for referring to the military “regime” or “junta”.

The Ministry of Information said the words “regime or junta” cannot be used for the military-appointed State Administrative Council, saying it “was constitutionally formed by the military”.

The ministry sent directives to the Myanmar Press Council, a media body that settles media disputes, calling for journalists to report “ethically” and “avoid instigating public unrest”.

The military chief said during the Monday meeting of the junta’s government body that it will regulate the media. He said: “Concerning the media, measures must be taken to regulate the press in accordance with press ethics through the Myanmar Press Council.”

According to the state-run media, he said: “Warnings have been issued against the use of military government that staged a coup in news reports, and action will be taken against violators who continue to use such usage by revoking publishing licenses.”

However, the press council has ceased operations with 23 out of its 26 members resigning since last week’s military orders.

U Sein Win, acting editor-in-chief of Mizzima Myanmar News, told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that coup leader comments were a warning against the independent media and an attempt to stop accurate reporting.

The country will return to darkness under the military junta if it revokes media licenses, he said.

Mizzima’s editorial on Tuesday said it will still be using terms like “military council, junta or regime” in its reporting.

“[Junta] is not hate speech. It is just the essence of the situation. We have the right to use the term ‘junta’ if we have media freedom,” said U Myint Kyaw, former joint secretary of the press council, who resigned last week.

He told The Irrawaddy the media faces increasingly strict censorship. “The protest movements can’t be stopped by restricting the media,” U Myint Kyaw said.

Last Wednesday, numerous senior Myanmar Times staff resigned, saying management instructed them to follow the Ministry of Information guidelines, recognize military rule and use “power transfer” rather than “coup”.

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