No Apology From Journalists as Yangon Govt Drops Incitement Suit

By The Irrawaddy 9 November 2018

YANGON — The Yangon Region Government on Friday dropped its incitement suit against three Eleven Media Group journalists but was denied the apology it wanted from the reporter and two editors, who maintain that their coverage was accurate.

President U Win Myint last month ordered the regional government to drop its lawsuit against the trio — managing editors U Kyaw Zaw Lin and Nari Min and chief reporter U Phyo Wai Win — and adhere to the Media Law, which says the Myanmar Press Council should try to resolve complaints against the media before they reach the courts.

The council’s own rules preclude it from mediating a dispute that is being litigated in order to avoid accusations of contempt of court.

The government’s move to withdraw the suit comes three weeks after the council urged it to follow the president’s order.

Yangon Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein has demanded that Eleven Media apologize for an article about the regional government’s alleged financial mismanagement because it contained false information. He warned that legal action would resume if the Myanmar Press Council could not settle the dispute.

U Kyaw Zaw Lin said on Friday that the trio had nothing to apologize for because the story was accurate and based on credible sources.

The story in question was based primarily on what lawmakers had said during a session of the regional legislature about an official audit of the Yangon government’s 2016-17 fiscal year budget. Lawmakers themselves insisted the story was accurate.

“How can we apology for something that we didn’t do wrong?” said U Kyaw Zaw Lin.

He said the company took full responsibility for the story and would defend how and why it was written before the Myanmar Press Council.

The Yangon government sued the three journalists in early October under Article 505 (b) of the Penal Code. They were arrested on Oct. 10 and detained at Yangon’s Insein Prison before being released on bail Oct. 26.

Additional reporting by The Irrawaddy’ Zue Zue.