How Myanmar Journalists Report Under Military Rule


From cover stories to burner telephones, Myanmar’s journalists are resorting to unconventional solutions to report on existence underneath army rule.

The space for media has shrunk significantly due to the fact Myanmar’s navy seized electric power in 2021. Additional than 120 journalists have been detained, the junta revoked licenses at about a dozen outlets, and other media groups and reporters now operate in exile.

All those who continue being say they are taking a selection of safety measures to remain risk-free below army rule.

FILE- Junta spokesman Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun speaks during a live news conference in Naypyidaw, April 9, 2021.

FILE- Junta spokesman Brigadier Normal Zaw Min Tun speaks throughout a reside news meeting in Naypyidaw, April 9, 2021.

The junta, which refers to alone as the, states media and activists are spreading “fake information.” And spokesperson Important Normal Zaw Min Tun advised VOA in June the junta “never arrests any journalists for carrying out their task, as I have explained consistently.”

But journalists who spoke with VOA described how they or colleagues have been focused for arrest.

A single of these is Earn Zaw Naing, who functions for the impartial information site Crimson Information Company.

The armed service detained him briefly last yr for his coverage of the coup. He afterwards identified the township police had a list of men and women to arrest.

“They are hoping to arrest us for the reason that they want some of our resources,” Acquire Zaw Naing reported. “They are investigating the community and the house where by they [the sources] utilized to dwell.”

Underneath individuals situation, reporting normally takes thorough planning, said a journalist who goes by the alias KLT to safeguard his identity.

The freelance journalist has designed a set of safety steps, including moving often. So considerably, he has moved at the very least 5 occasions in Yangon.

“When I go exterior of the area wherever I are living, I usually provide a further phone which is thoroughly non-public and not similar to my do the job at all — like the contacts are only my spouse, my mother, my non-journalistic pals and so on,” he stated.

And when he does telephone interviews, he utilizes protected solutions.

“I make the calls to my resources as a result of the Signal and Telegram [apps]. But at occasions when the resources are from the web blackout areas, I make calls with non-registered Sim playing cards and so on,” he added.

FILE - This picture taken Jan. 22, 2021 in Rennes, France, shows a smartphone screen featuring messaging service applications WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram.

FILE – This image taken Jan. 22, 2021 in Rennes, France, reveals a smartphone display that includes messaging support programs WhatsApp, Sign, Telegram.

The threats to journalist safety have prompted several to work undercover so they can keep reporting on the conflict.

KLT described to VOA how he produced a go over story about being the proprietor of a cellular phone store to attempt to stay away from currently being detained.

The journalist talked about his tale with a mate who in fact owns a shop. Now, the reporter mentioned, “If there is any crisis or interrogation, I can just make a call to him and establish that I’m a cell phone provider shop proprietor.”

As he travels, so, much too, does his address story.

“Every time when I reach to a new ward, I let the neighbors know that I’m a cell shop proprietor,” KLT mentioned.

But even with a cover story and protection safety measures, getting accessibility to resources is challenging.

Journalists normally have “zero possibility” to get out in the discipline, he claimed.

“We have to typically function just by interviewing on cellular phone and internet. And most of the moments, it is incredibly tricky to get in touch with the resources, contacts and at occasions it is quite tricky to get a good photograph or video footages,” he stated.

FILE- Major General Aung Ye Win, Director of Military Information Department talks to the journalists in Maungdaw, Rakhine state, Myanmar, Sept. 27, 2017.

FILE- Significant Normal Aung Ye Win, Director of Armed service Information Department talks to the journalists in Maungdaw, Rakhine state, Myanmar, Sept. 27, 2017.

Coverage blocked

With Myanmar’s army accused of atrocities, getting access to witnesses and footage is crucial to doc what is taking place.

The armed forces has killed additional than 2,020 people today and detained more than 14,000, in accordance to the Thailand-primarily based Aid Association for Political Prisoners.

Political analyst Aung Thu Nyein said the junta has no tolerance for “free media” in Myanmar.

“Generally, the ecosystem of free of charge media is shrinking,” Aung Thu Nyein informed VOA. “They want to control the media retailers other than their point out media.”

However, the analyst said the armed forces is not the only team involved about adverse reporting.

“The opposition, specifically newly emerging resistance groups, these types of as Individuals Defense Power [PDF] and community defense forces [LDFs] has the exact same inclination, to threaten the media reporting from them and their incorrect deeds.”

FILE - Despite the risks that reporting on life in Myanmar brings, reporters such as Sang Li continue to cover the conflict, both from within and outside the country.

FILE – Despite the dangers that reporting on daily life in Myanmar brings, reporters this sort of as Sang Li continue to deal with the conflict, both of those from inside and outside the state.

A knock-on impact to the repression is a drop in the amount of stores even now publishing.

“Some media agencies stopped working as they really feel minimal media independence and see no gain from their small business,” Aung Thu Nyein mentioned. “There are virtually much less high quality studies, as the quality of media agencies is reducing and no promotion by their have organizations.”

The sharp decline for media freedoms has resulted in Myanmar slipping to just about the bottom of the Environment Push Liberty Index in 2022.

The state now ranks 176 out of 180 nations around the world, in which a single is the freest, in accordance to Reporters Without Borders.


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