Our Fight For Press Freedom

By The Irrawaddy 3 May 2018

As we believe in a free press, it has been our mission since the beginning to protect and preserve press freedom and develop an independent media free from bias and influence.

Over the course of 25 years, The Irrawaddy has been at the forefront of lobbying for freedom—outside and inside the country—for the Fourth Estate in Myanmar.

We have persistently challenged successive governments— from the former military regime to U Thein Sein’s quasi-civilian government to the current Daw Aung San Suu Kyi-led National League for Democracy administration—as an independent monitor of power and are continuing to do so.

But do not be mistaken in thinking Myanmar today enjoys a free press. Anybody who says so will be seriously insulting the four journalists, including our reporter Lawi Weng, who have been detained by the country’s military for their commitment to the truth.

With the media under attack in Myanmar, here is a collection of our stories on press freedom.


A Day of Disgrace for Myanmar’s Already Tarnished Police Force

Neither the Home Affairs Minister nor the President can afford to ignore allegations that police hatched a plot to frame two journalists

Reporters in Handcuffs: An Emblem for Our Times

Myanmar’s democracy has entered a dark new period with the prosecution of journalists for doing their job.

Press Freedom and the Invisible Line 

Do we have press freedom in Myanmar? Yes, we do, but with an invisible line…. When you touch or cross it, you’re finished.

The Crackdown on the Media Must Stop

The recent arrest of two Reuters journalists under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act clearly demonstrates an attack on press freedom.

A Matter of Conscience

The fate of three detained journalists depends upon the ruling of a judge who maintains he is under no pressure from the military.

Fitting a Round Peg into a Square Hole   

Defendants attest that charging journalists for unlawful association for doing their jobs is simply wrong.

A Judicious Opportunity

The decision as to whether the three detained journalists, including The Irrawaddy’s Lawi Weng, are guilty now falls solely on the judges.

Journalists’ Case to Test Judiciary

The upcoming court appearance will be a trial in which we see whether the court will act independently without being influenced or intimidated by anyone.

The Military’s Offensive Against the Media

Journalists are under attack and press freedom is in jeopardy, writes Kyaw Zwa Moe.

Defending Lawi Weng

The arrest of Lawi Weng and the DVB reporters demonstrates that Myanmar remains an unsafe place for journalists to work, writes Aung Zaw.

Open Letter to the State Counselor

Building peace and a federal democratic system are understandable priorities, but another matter too requires urgent attention, writes Kyaw Zwa Moe.

NLD Govt Must Live up to Its Manifesto on Press Freedom

Until Burma is free from state-owned media and laws like Article 66(d), neither journalists nor citizens can freely honor World Press Freedom Day.

Analysis: Burma’s Military Remains Intolerant of Press Freedom

Recent incidents highlight the military’s wariness of press freedom, fearing a negative portrayal of its institution.

A Note From the Newsroom on World Press Freedom Day

On World Press Freedom Day, we laud great progress but note that true freedom of the press has yet to be achieved in Burma.

Back to Square One for Press Freedom in Burma

A harsh sentence handed down to journalists for reporting on an alleged chemical weapons factory serves as a reminder that Burma is still an “enemy of the press.”

Press Freedom Is Not a Gift

Burma’s government has created more space for journalists to do their work, but its mindset remains as narrow as ever.

Burma’s Media Landscape: Better, but Still Far from Free

Despite recent reforms, Burma remains one of the most restricted countries in the world in terms of press freedoms.

Time for Media to Seize Freedom

The notorious censorship board is still chopping subjects which it judges are “inappropriate” and even banning journals from printing.

Burma—Media versus Minitrue

Burma’s media continues to be governed by authoritarian censorship regulations despite the looming creation of a new Press Council.

How Much Freedom Does Burmese Media Enjoy?

Since coming into power, President Thein Sein has mentioned the importance of the fourth pillar in society and revealed that both he and his office follow media reports in and outside of Burma.


Satirist Feels ‘Restraint’ After Recent Arrest

The Irrawaddy speaks with the columnist charged—and then released—under Article 66(d) about his arrest, self-censorship, and current writing.

Dateline Irrawaddy: Telecoms Law Must be Amended to ‘Serve Its Intent’

The Irrawaddy discusses the new proposed draft of the Telecommunications Law, the controversial Article 66(d) and recent arrests of journalists.

Legal Expert: Press Council Must Defend Detained Journalists

Myanmar Press Council must stand with reporters if they are to escape unlawful association charges, says Media Law consultant U Khin Maung Myint.

Ma Thida: ‘Fear Makes People Fierce’

Writer Ma Thida discusses collective fears in present day Burma: how they manifest, how they cause harm, and how they must be faced.

Incoming Info Minister Pe Myint: ‘I Will Ensure Press Freedom’

The Irrawaddy tracks down the incoming cabinet member in Naypyitaw to discuss press freedom and prospects for Myanmar’s state-owned and private media.

Press Freedom, With Limits

Myanmar’s journalism scene is opening up, but after speaking with reporters in Yangon, media watchdog Shawn Crispin sees cause for concern.

Will Aung Kyi Defend Press Freedom?

Myanmar’s new information minister is known to be moderate and most of the country’s journalists are cautiously optimistic about his appointment.


Reuters Case Timeline

The Irrawaddy looks back at the major developments in the case of Reuters reporters Ko Wa Lone and Ko Kyaw Soe Oo since their arrest on Dec. 12.

Timeline: Journalists Under Attack

A total of 11 journalists have now been arrested in Myanmar this year for defamation and other alleged crimes under the country’s repressive laws.

In Sketches: Myanmar’s Challenging Media Landscape

A series of cartoons by The Irrawaddy from 2014 to 2017 reflect media milestones and hardships.

Interactive Timeline: Press Freedom Under Attack

Explore the publications currently being threatened in Myanmar’s courts.


 Women Journalists Say Access to Information More Challenging Under NLD

‘Women in News’ summit also calls attention to lack of safeguards against harassment of female reporters in the field and in the newsroom


Journalists Say Press Freedom Declining in Myanmar

Lawsuits by government, military having chilling effect on reporters, survey results find

Advocates: NLD Govt Has Failed to Advance Press Freedom

Advocates from 14 local organizations issue an assessment report on freedom of expression in Myanmar, one year into the NLD’s leadership.