The professional membership of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand is dismayed by the abrupt dismissal of journalist Fiona MacGregor from the Myanmar Times, following her reporting of alleged rapes by government forces in Rakhine state.
Ms. MacGregor, who has worked for the Myanmar Times since 2013, says she was told by the paper’s management that her reports had breached company policy, by damaging national reconciliation and the paper’s reputation. She was sacked four days after the Myanmar government spokesman, Zaw Htay, accused her of bias on his Facebook page. The Ministry of Information is also reported to have complained about her articles directly to the Myanmar Times.
The improvements to media freedom in Myanmar over the past five years have been widely applauded. They have allowed the growth of a vibrant and competitive media industry offering essential information to Myanmar’s citizens during the political transition, and for the first time scrutinized decisions made by those in power. The Myanmar Times can be proud of the role it has played in this revival.
The FCCT urges the management of the Myanmar Times to reconsider its decision to dismiss a journalist with a good record of accurate reporting, and calls on all media companies to resist government pressure to censor or sanction journalists merely for writing articles which cause discomfort to the authorities. The FCCT also urges the government of Myanmar to allow journalists access to areas like northern Rakhine State so they can properly inform themselves about the issues there.