Call from Myanmar Civil Society Organizations For World Press Freedom Day

Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation

Date: 30th April 2019

Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Myanmar honors and commemorates the World Press Freedom Day that will fall this year on May 3rd.

The media is the backbone of democracy and a bridge that links the gap between governments and the people. The media have been the eyes and ears of the people during Myanmar’s democratization, and we, as civil society organizations, greatly value the role that they play. We express our highest acknowledgment and respect as we take a bow to honor workers in the media who have lost their lives while carrying out their duties.

Although Myanmar has democratic ambitions, indicators show that freedom of the press is currently restricted and under threat.

Currently, Myanmar’s press freedom is ranked 138th in the world, falling one place from 2018. There have been 31 complaints brought against media workers and 47 media workers who have faced trials under the current government.

We note that press freedom ranking rose 20 places between 2013 and 2017, yet sadly, it has fallen seven places since 2018. When two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, were sentenced to seven years imprisonment, Myanmar CSOs and media were shocked and the international community condemned the verdict.

We welcome the recent auspicious action taken by the President of Myanmar who announced the prisoner pardons during the occasion of Myanmar’s New Year in 2019. However, we note that only five of the 50 current political prisoners were among the 16,499 total prisoners released.

We strongly call on the Government of Myanmar to respect freedom of expression as provided in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and to:

(a)   Immediately release all 45 remaining political prisoners, including Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who are currently being kept behind bars in different prisons across Myanmar for conducting their work in media;

(b)   Amend or repeal Article 66(d) of the 2013 Telecommunication Law, the 1908 Unlawful Association Law, the 1923 Official Secret Act, articles related to criminal defamation of the Penal Codes (Article 500, 500(a), (b)), the 2014 Media Law and the 2017 Privacy Law in accordance with international principles and standards.

Contact for the Call

1.      Tate Naing (AAPP) 09-428023828/ +66 812878751

2.      Hline Thint Zin Wai (aka) Thar Lon Zaung Htet (PCMJ) 09 – 443077557

3.      Thinzar Shunlei Yi (ACDD) 09 – 795574775

Download full statement with the list of 109 Civil Society Organizations HERE.

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