Myanmar’s Military Ditches Irrawaddy and Reuters Lawsuits

By Zaw Zaw Htwe 18 March 2020

Yangon – Myanmar’s military has withdrawn its lawsuits against The Irrawaddy’s Burmese edition and Reuters News Agency after an intervention by the Myanmar Press Council.

The Yangon Region Command filed cases against the Irrawaddy’s Burmese edition editor U Ye Ni on April 12 last year over coverage of clashes between the military and the Arakan Army (AA).

“I am happy the lawsuits against us have been dropped by the military. I also deeply welcome the military’s reasons for withdrawing the cases,” said U Ye Ni.

He was sued under Article 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law over reporting of fighting in the historic town of Mrauk-U in Rakhine State in 2019.

Last Monday, the military’s lawsuit against The Irrawaddy’s editor was accepted by a Yangon court after being stalled for nearly a year.

Another Article 66(d) lawsuit was filed against Reuters and a lawmaker over coverage of civilians killed by artillery shelling in Rakhine State.

The military said the lawsuit against the lawmaker had not been removed.

In a letter to the Myanmar Press Council, the military said the legal action was taken because of misleading news reports which undermined the dignity and image of the armed forces.

But it said it would drop the legal action against the two media groups and was looking forward to establishing a new relationship with the press.

The Myanmar Press Council welcomed the withdrawal of the cases. It called on organizations to report any grievances over news coverage to the council before taking legal action.

Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun, the military’s spokesman, said: “I urge the media to avoid bias and to avoid defaming the Tatmadaw [military] as it carries out security operations.”

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