Myanmar Regime Threatens Foreign Media With Lawsuits for Calling It ‘Junta’

By The Irrawaddy 30 June 2021

The Myanmar military regime has threatened to take legal action against foreign news agencies with correspondents based in the country if they continue to refer to it as a “junta” or report what it described as exaggerated or false news.

The threat comes four months after coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing warned local publications in late February that they would lose their publishing licenses if they used descriptions such as military “regime” or “junta”.

The regime’s Ministry of Information said the words “regime” and “junta” could not be used to refer to the military-appointed State Administration Council, as the body was “constitutionally formed by the military”.

Since the coup that toppled Myanmar’s democratically elected government on Feb. 1, the junta has been described at home and abroad as “the military council”, “the regime” or “the junta.”

In early March, the junta revoked the publishing licenses of 7Day News, Myanmar Now, Mizzima, DVB and Khit Thit Media without giving a reason.

The regime’s targeting of foreign news agencies was announced Wednesday in the state-run newspapers.

“It is found that some foreign correspondents based in Myanmar refer to the current government of the State Administration Council as military council or military junta or junta in their news stories and exaggerate their news, quoting baseless sources and false news related to Myanmar,” it said.

It should be noted that the threat comes a few weeks after the junta’s denial of news reports by CNN and Reuters that regime troops torched a village in Upper Myanmar. The regime accused the organizations of being “unethical” and said it would send objection letters to the news outlets over what it called their reporting of “fake” news. The regime claimed that the village was burned down by a local civilian resistance force that has been fighting the junta. However, villagers insisted that security forces committed the arson attack, according to local media reports.

The regime’s Information Ministry said in Wednesday’s announcement that “some foreign news agencies were warned not to further apply the usage of military council/military junta/junta in reference to the government in the future and not to quote and exaggerate false news.”

“Action will be taken against them under the existing laws if they apply wrong usages, quote and exaggerate fake news or disseminate false information,” it added.

The warning didn’t say which laws would be applied to violators, however.

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