Tag: Myanmar

MEDIA: Myanmar junta publishes list of 19 wanted journalists


By rsf.org

MELBOURNE, 1 May 2021: The Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has called upon the international community to react to the Myanmar military’s latest attempts to impose complete control over news and information, which have taken a new turn in the past two weeks with the publication of lists of wanted journalists as well as more arbitrary arrests of journalists.
Amid continuing protests against the 1 February coup d’état, the military took their crackdown to a new level on 4 April when they began publishing lists of journalists wanted for providing information about the pro-democracy protests, along with well-known figures wanted for publicly voicing support for the protests.

The latest list of “Those spreading news to affect state stability” is broadcast every evening on TV news programs and is published in the print media. Those named are “charged under Section 505 A” of the penal code, which penalizes the dissemination of information contrary to the interests of the armed forces and carries a possible three-year jail sentence.

At least 19 journalists have been named. They include Mratt Kyaw Thu, a well-known freelancer who recently told RSF about the threat to journalists since the coup, Frontier Myanmar, and VOA columnist Sithu Aung Myint and DVB TV anchor Ye Wint Thu.

Two journalists were added to the list on 17 April: Soe Zaya Tun of Reuters and freelancer Lumin Thuang Tun. Democratic Voice of Burma’s Nay Zaw Naing and freelancer Htoo Kyaw Win had been added three days before that. Along with their names, the authorities provide Facebook account details, profile photos, and addresses.

As well as journalists, the list also includes well-known actors and singers, and social media personalities, who have had to go into hiding or flee the country to avoid arrest. One of the journalists wanted by the military, Myanmar Post editor Zin Thaw Naing, was not so lucky. He was arrested on 5 April.

Arbitrary arrests

“After targeting journalists covering protests, the military has gone a step further and are now brazenly arresting anyone from the media world and anyone daring to contradict the propaganda they are trying to impose on the public,” RSF spokesperson Pauline Adès-Mével said. “It is time the international community reacted. The military authorities must stop violating press freedom in an attempt to hide their worst abuses against civilians from the world.”

The latest journalist to be arrested is Japanese freelancer Yuki Kitazumi, who was arrested yesterday and was taken via a police station to Insein prison, which is notorious for being used to jail media figures.

Even former journalists are now being persecuted. Although they had stopped working after the coup, Thin Thin Aung, the co-founder of the Mizzima news agency, and one of her former employees, James Phu Thoure, were arrested on 8 April and have been held ever since although no charges have been brought against them.

Myo Myat Myat Pan, a former Myitkyina News Journal journalist who had not worked for this outlet since the start of March, was arrested at her home on the evening of 14 April by plainclothes police. According to Reporting Asean’s tally, she is one of the total of 35 journalists currently held in Myanmar, of a total of 65 journalists arrested since 1 February.

Anyone participating in the dissemination of information, not to the liking of the military authorities is exposed to the threat of arbitrary arrest or violence. On 2 April, 11 people were detained at a Yangon market for answering questions by a CNN TV crew which had exceptionally received permission from the military to come and cover the situation in Myanmar. Eight of the 11 were released after three days, but the other three are still being held.

Communications disconnected

Since Gen. Min Aung Hlaing took over, the military authorities have gradually brought all means of communication and information under their control. Privately-owned TV and radio news stations have been suspended. Only entertainment can be broadcast. And satellite dishes that can be used to receive foreign TV news channels have been banned in some regions since the start of March.

Internet access is now only possible via a fixed-line connection and is disconnected every day from 1 a.m. to 9 a.m., posing major problems for transmitting and accessing information in the remoter parts of the country, especially for journalists working there.

Myanmar is ranked 139th out of 180 countries in RSF’s World Press Freedom Index.

Source- rsf.org

Justice For Myanmar : Call to dismantle Myanmar’s military cartel’s business interests and systemic corruption

Photo- Justice For Myanmar

By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, April 28, 2021: Today is the first anniversary of Justice For Myanmar, launched on April 28, 2020, to campaign against the Myanmar military’s extensive business interests and systemic corruption, which enable them to commit crimes against Myanmar people. The campaign was initiated by a covert group of activists working for the protection of rights, equality, justice, and accountability.

Justice For Myanmar is part of a wider movement striving for a better future for Myanmar, where there is a federal democracy, sustainable peace, and the military is divested from the economy, fully under civilian control.

The domestic campaign targeting the military’s businesses has grown exponentially since the illegal Feb. 1, 2021 coup, as military products symbolize the military’s violent oppression, greed, and corruption. A large-scale boycott against items like Mytel SIM cards and Myanmar Beer has caused an unparalleled blow to the military’s bottom line.

The movement against the military’s business networks has spread across the world, and the military is losing its profits. Activists have ramped up campaigns targeting nodes in the military’s business networks, while journalists from around the world have independently exposed the military’s business interests in impactful and detailed investigations.

Photo- Justice For Myanmar

The pressure has taken a toll on businesses that are linked to the military. Since the coup,

• Targeted sanctions have been imposed on MEHL, MEC, junta leaders, and their family businesses by the US, UK, and EU.

• Kirin Holdings and POSCO C&C have announced an end to their joint ventures with the military.

• Singapore investor Lim Kaling has exited from the military’s tobacco monopoly.

• The Singapore Stock Exchange took regulatory action against a real estate developer leasing land from the army.

• Électricité de France and Woodside Energy have suspended business with the junta.

• Coda Payments and Fortumo, direct carrier billing businesses, cut ties with Mytel.

• The Myanmar junta has been restricted from accessing a Japanese micro-satellite.

• Adani Ports has been removed from the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.

• Banks and pension funds in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands are taking action against their military-linked investments.

Photo-Justice For Myanmar

Justice For Myanmar spokesperson Yadanar Maung says: “There’s been a fierce and unprecedented move to end military rule that has exploded since the coup, with people across Myanmar risking their lives and livelihoods for a better future, free from military violence and oppression. Despite the terror campaign waged by this military junta against the people of Myanmar, the people will not be silenced or stopped. We honor those whose lives have been robbed, who have sacrificed for this cause, including activists, ethnic freedom fighters, whistle-blowers, public and private sector workers, and journalists. Together, we must and will dismantle the military cartel. Removing the Myanmar military from business is imperative to establish a federal democracy. The military must be pushed back to the barracks where they belong.”

The work of Justice For Myanmar follows the 2019 United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar report, The Economic Interests of the Myanmar Military, which recommended that businesses cut all financial ties with the Myanmar military. Justice For Myanmar aims to ensure that the UN FFM’s recommendations are implemented.

Australian activists condemn Adani’s links to the Myanmar military regime; Adani denies dealings with Myanmar army

Photo- Frontline Action on Coal

By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 31 March 2021: Environmental activists in Australia have condemned Adani for their cooperation with the Myanmar military regime, this morning staging a picket outside Adani’s Abbott Point coal terminal. The activists displayed a banner saying – Adani in bed with Myanmar military. (see photo)

A report released yesterday (30 March 2021) by the Australian Centre for International Justice revealed Adani has allegedly paid over $US50 million to the military-aligned Myanmar Economic Corporation to lease land for its Yangon International Terminal. It also revealed that, though Adani last month denied ever having dealings with the Myanmar military, there is video footage of chief executive Karan Adani meeting and exchanging gifts with top general and accused war criminal Min Aung Hlaing.

Photo-Australian Centre For International Justice

The military regime overthrew the democratically elected Myanmar government in a coup on February 8th. Since then the military has killed over 500 protesters, including over 100 last weekend. The US government last week became the latest international organization to announce boycotts and sanctions against the regime.

Frontline Action on Coal spokesperson Andy Paine said “this should come as no surprise to those who have been following Adani’s operations in India or Australia. In both places, they have been criticized for abusing the human rights of indigenous people and for consistently lying to the public.

“Adani tries to paint itself as a good corporate citizen, but this once again shows them for what they are: a company that will put its profits ahead of all other considerations. That’s why people of conscience are opposing Adani’s projects from India to Australia. That’s why over 90 corporations have ruled out working on the Carmichael mine. That’s why Adani are ashamed to use their own name, instead of engaging in ludicrous rebranding exercises.

If Adani is serious about democracy and human rights, they should immediately pull out of their port in Yangon. And the Australian people should demand an end to Adani’s destructive Carmichael mine – to support those struggling for democracy in Myanmar, and to stop our climate from becoming the latest thing sacrificed for Adani’s profits.”

READ FULL Australian Centre for International Justice report

Myanmar coup: ASEAN split over the way forward


The events in Myanmar pose a challenge to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which is struggling to decide whether to stick to its principle of non-interference in members’ internal affairs or not.

By Rodion Ebbighausen

After Myanmar’s military dislodged the civilian government in a coup and took over power on February 1, nationwide protests and a mass campaign of civil disobedience ensued against the junta.

The military has carried out a brutal clampdown on the protesters.

As of March 26, 164 demonstrators had been killed, according to official figures. But as per data provided by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), over 300 people had lost their lives.

There is no end in sight to the crisis, which poses several challenges for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a regional alliance.

Writing in the Bangkok Post, Thai political expert Thitinan Pongsudhirak even calls it an “existential crisis” for the grouping.

ASEAN’s diplomacy and reputation put to the test
First, the diplomatic weight of the alliance is at stake. It would be a serious blow to ASEAN’s importance if, for instance, the United States were to cancel its participation in the next East Asia Summit or ASEAN summit because it was not prepared to sit at the same table with Myanmar’s generals.

Second, the reputation of the alliance is suffering. Images of nationwide mass demonstrations against the military regime and of demonstrators being killed and wounded are being circulated around the world. This is also tarnishing ASEAN’s image. The bloc is already accused of not taking its own human rights charter seriously.

Third, a breakup of Myanmar, which is by no means ruled out, would endanger the stability of the entire region. People have already started fleeing to places like India and Thailand.

After the last violent crackdown on protests in 1988, 360,000 people fled to Bangladesh, China, India, Malaysia and, particularly, Thailand, according to a report by the International Commission of Jurists.

In an opinion piece for the Bangkok Post, former Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Pirmoya warned of a “refugee crisis” and destabilization of the border regions.

He added: “ASEAN not only has the right, but the responsibility, to act decisively and take concrete actions to ensure that Myanmar’s generals end the violence, reverse their coup, respect the will of the people, and allow democracy to prevail in Myanmar.”

Divided reactions to the coup
In contrast to the former foreign minister’s clear appeal, Thailand’s government, which itself came to power in a coup in 2014, has so far avoided criticizing the Myanmar military, calling the coup an internal affair of the country.

Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines have reacted in the same way. While the governments of Vietnam and Cambodia are authoritarian regimes themselves, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has declared war on democracy in his country.

Malaysia and Indonesia, on the other hand, took a stand against the Myanmar military junta and criticized the violence there. Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin expressed his “disgust at the continuing deadly violence against unarmed civilians.”

Indonesian President Joko Widodo called for an immediate end to the violence and announced that he would, together with Brunei, call a special meeting of ASEAN. Brunei is the current chair of the bloc.

“Dialogue and reconciliation must be carried out immediately to restore democracy, to restore peace and to restore stability in Myanmar,” Widodo said.

A first in ASEAN’s history
“This is quite a strong statement, especially considering ASEAN’s usual ‘quiet’ and noninterference approach,” Deasy Simandjuntak, an expert from the ISEAS-Yusof-Ishak-Institute in Singapore, told Malaysian newspaper The Straits Times.

Since its founding in 1967, ASEAN has pursued behind closed doors and consensus-based diplomacy.

With this approach, ASEAN succeeded, for instance, in convincing Myanmar to accept international aid in 2008 after the devastating cyclone Nargis, which claimed about 100,000 lives.

It was also ASEAN that admitted Myanmar to the club in 1997, despite international pressure not to do so. Becoming a member of the bloc contributed to the subsequent opening of the country.

Public criticism of Myanmar and the call for a summit that is primarily about a domestic political crisis in a member state is a first for ASEAN. Myanmar’s military generals will certainly not be amused by the criticism coming now from some of the bloc’s member states, as Thailand’s generals were let off scot-free after the 2014 coup.

Another factor that complicates a dialogue with the generals is that it has so far been ASEAN’s Muslim-majority countries that condemned the coup and crackdown in Buddhist-majority Myanmar. And these countries have already been critical of Myanmar’s policies toward the Rohingya community.

This situation could lead to the junta foregoing some friendships. As the generals had previously stated at the United Nations: “We are used to sanctions, and we survived … We have to learn to walk with only [a] few friends.”

No success without unity
So, the questions are, first, whether it will be possible to create the necessary unity within ASEAN so that the Myanmar generals cannot avoid dialogue even with their critics within the alliance, and, second, whether the confrontational approach, by ASEAN standards, would be more successful than the quiet diplomacy of the past. Both questions are interrelated.

With regard to the first question, an unnamed ASEAN diplomat told Japan’s Asian Nikkei Review: ASEAN “is like a faulty Rubik’s cube where it is impossible to get all the colors aligned on one side.” ASEAN’s disunity, in turn, diminishes the confrontational approach’s chances of success.

This article has been translated from German.

Source- dw.com, 29 March 2021.