Ethnic based and private media groups operating in Burma have raised their concerns on increased media restriction in Burma at a conference held in Harkar of Chin State on March 19, 2015.
Around 90 media groups including ethnic media groups and private media groups from different parts of the country got together to discuss the current media law, media development and its marketing.
Daw May Thingyan Hein, chief editor of Myit Maka Journal spoke to Karen News about the conference discussions on the issue.
“When we talk about media freedom, there are two parts; freedom of news gathering and freedom of writing. When news gathering, ethnic and private media groups cannot get the same access to information as the government-owned Myawaddy and MRTV do. In writing, there is still many threatening laws that put restrictions on us.”
Daw May Thingyan Hein said that government restrictions on media are still in place so it cannot yet be thought that there is media freedom in Burma. Daw May Thingyan Hein said that it is the responsible of media groups to unite and strike for media freedom in the country. She called on the country’s media groups to work together for greater press freedoms not just think about their own interests or benefits.
Burma has been lauded for its recent reforms since the quasi-civilian government came into power when they loosened restrictions on some sectors including the media by abolishing the censorship board.
U Pite Htway, the deputy minister at the Ministry of Information pointed out in his opening speech at the conference that the elimination of the censorship board and the changes of government policy on printing and publishing as development of media freedom.
Khu Thar Nge, chief editor of Kantarawddy Times, an ethnic Karenni news organization said that it is not enough.
Speaking to Karen News, Khu Thar Nge said.
“Although the government got rid of its censorship board, we still have difficulties getting information from government departments as they always have an excuse not to respond to us. This is a sign of restrictions and lack of media freedom in Burma.”
This year’s ethnic media conference organized by the Burma News International (BNI), an ethnic news alliance, was the third conference in its series. The conference was held over three days from 18 to 20 March 2015. More than 200 representatives from ethnic media groups, private media groups, state-own media groups, Non-Governmental Organizations, ethnic political parties, community based organization and observers attended the conference.