The Myanmar Journalist Network has called on media organisations to boycott the activities of government officials in response to what they claim was the direct targeting and beating of journalists during the March 10 crackdown on student protesters in Letpadan.
As a protest against the Information Ministry’s “half-truths” about the authorities’ handling of the student protest in Letpadan, the Myanmar Journalist Network on March 13 announced that their members’ newspapers will not cover news about government officials’ activities for three days from March 27 to 29.
In response, Information Minister U Ye Htut wrote on his Facebook page that they would use state-run media, international media and the internet to report news about government officials’ activities.
MJN also said that they made that decision as a protest against the violent crackdown made by civilians wearing red armbands on protestors outside Yangon City Hall on March 5 and the police crackdown on the students’ protest camp in Letpadan on March 10.
The statement of MJN alleges that the Information Ministry delivered half-truth reports about the violent crackdown. Some reporters were intentionally beaten and arrested by the police during the protest, even though the police knew they were reporters, says the statement.
U Kyaw Min Swe, the editor-in-chief of The Voice newspaper, told Mizzima his editorial team would have to make a decision on the MJN call.
“Regarding the issue, our editorial team will make a decision. I alone cannot make the decision.”
He said he did not want to make any comment on the decision made by the MJN.
Speaking on whether privately-owned newspapers will abide by the decision of the MJN, U Thiha, an editor with 7 Day Daily newspaper, said: “It’s hard to say. Journalists like us will cover any activity and event that is news.”
“Writing the news is the job of journalists,” he said.
Moreover, the MJN announced that it had decided to urge Myanmar journalists to boycott a media conference to be held in Yangon from March 27 to 29, which the Information Minister is due to attend.
The privately-run media conference is organized by the International Press Institute or IPI.
Speaking about MJN’s decision to urge journalists to boycott the media conference, U Ye Htut wrote on Facebook: “IPI is an international organization trying to promote press freedom. An international conference organized by that group is held every year in a country. For this year, the conference will be held in Myanmar and discuss the issues related to press freedom in Myanmar and the world.”
U Ye Htut added that boycotting the conference will not harm the Myanmar government and the Information Ministry.
MJN general secretary U Myint Kyaw says, “I have nothing to argue. Boycotting the media conference is aimed to let the world know about the issue.”