Myanmar Media Groups Vow to Defy Junta’s Publishing Bans

By The Irrawaddy 9 March 2021

Myanmar’s military regime banned five media groups for their supposed anti-regime coverage but most have announced that they would continue to cover the news in the fight for democracy and human rights.

On Monday, the Ministry of Information said it had revoked the publishing licenses of 7Day News, Myanmar Now, Mizzima, DVB and Khit Thit Media without giving a reason.

Since Feb. 22, coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing has repeatedly said that referring to the military’s State Administration Council as the “military regime” or “junta” will result in publication licenses being revoked. The military claims it seized power constitutionally.

Only 7Day News did not announce that it would keep publishing independently, defying the regime’s orders.

On Tuesday, DVB condemned the ban as prohibiting the rights to information and freedom of expression. Two of its reporters covering crackdowns on anti-regime protests have been detained.

DVB said it would fight for democracy and human rights alongside Myanmar’s people. It said its broadcasts will still be available on PSI bands, the DVB website, Facebook and YouTube.

Schoolteachers take part in the civil disobedience movement in Mandalay. / The Irrawaddy

“Following the order is fulfilling the regime’s strategy. So we will keep reporting as we have been doing,” U Sein Win, acting editor-in-chief of Mizzima News, told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday. The Mizzima said it will keep publishing news and broadcasting via its website, Facebook, PSI band, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.

After the announcement, the security forces reportedly raided Mizzima’s Yangon office and confiscated equipment on Tuesday.

Before the ban was announced Myanmar Now’s Yangon office was raided. Computers, printers and data servers were seized but no one was detained, Myanmar Now reported online.

However, 7Day News stopped publishing on Tuesday after the announcement.

Other outlets, including the BBC’s Burmese service, Radio Free Asia’s Burmese service and The Irrawaddy have been covering anti-regime movement and the military’s violent crackdowns against protesters, including killing and arbitrary detentions since the Feb. 1 coup. They have been using terms like “coup”, “military regime” and “military council” despite the junta’s repeated warnings.

Raids continue. On Tuesday afternoon, the security forces raided the Kamayut Media office in Yangon and detained its editor and co-founder, although the firm does not face a ban.

Numerous journalists have been seized while reporting on anti-regime protests. Though some were released, 14 have been detained and most of them are reportedly charged with sedition under Article 505(a) of the Penal Code. Another two journalists have been released on bail after being sued under the same charges.

Civic organizations also raided 

To battle the civil disobedience movement (CDM), the security forces raided the office of the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society in Yangon on Monday for supporting the CDM and anti-regime demonstrations. A safe box, computers, office equipment and paintings were taken.

The bloody floor of the Free Funeral Service Society office after being raided by the security forces on March 3.

The organization is led by veteran activist U Min Ko Naing, who was a leader of the 1988 uprising and is now on the run from the authorities. He has been urging civil servants and the public to protest and defy the regime.

In Shwepyithar Township, Yangon, the security forces raided the vocational training school of the National League for Democracy, detaining six people, including three trainees.

Cash, a truck, five motorbikes, more than 20 computers, 18 mobile phones, clocks and other office equipment were confiscated.

State-run television announced on Monday that the regime has charged U Kyaw Thu and his wife, Daw Myint Myint Khin Pe, of the Free Funeral Service Society for allegedly supporting the CDM.

The couple have been in hiding and they were sued for incitement under Article 505(a), carrying up to three years’ imprisonment, after the regime’s amended the legislation last month.

On March 3, the society’s office was raided and its belongings destroyed and 10 staff members brutally tortured by the security forces.

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