‘We won’t apol­o­gize’: Eleven Me­dia jour­nal­ists de­fi­ant af­ter fac­ing down in­cite­ment charges

Mizzima Business Weekly - - CONTENTS -

Three Eleven Me­dia jour­nal­ists who spent sev­eral weeks in de­ten­tion af­ter pub­lish­ing an ar­ti­cle crit­i­cal of the Yangon Re­gion govern­ment have said they will not apol­o­gise for their re­port­ing. The reporters were de­tained in Oc­to­ber un­der sec­tion 505b, which for­bids the pub­li­ca­tion of information that causes “fear or alarm” that may in­duce some­one “to com­mit an of­fense against the state.” The law car­ries a max­i­mum sen­tence of two years in prison. Ex­ec­u­tive ed­i­tors Kyaw Zaw Lin and Nayi Min and chief re­porter Phyo Wai Win were re­leased last month af­ter of­fi­cials with­drew the case but asked them to apol­o­gise for pub­lish­ing “in­cor­rect information”.

“We won’t apol­o­gise as they ask be­cause we didn’t write the ar­ti­cle based on false information,” said Kyaw Zaw Lin af­ter a meet­ing with the Myan­mar Press Coun­cil on De­cem­ber 3.

The ar­ti­cle was based on a dis­cus­sion in Yangon Re­gion par­lia­ment, he added, so the govern­ment should “look for an an­swer to­gether with the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Hlut­taw and the Of­fice of the Au­di­tor General.”

The piece, pub­lished on Oc­to­ber 8, raised ques­tions about the re­gional govern­ment’s fi­nan­cial man­age­ment and busi­ness deal­ings.

The ar­ti­cle crit­i­cised the re­gional trans­port min­is­ter, Ni­lar Kyaw, af­ter she told par­lia­ment that she did not know who had bor­rowed money to buy a fleet of school buses when ques­tioned by an MP.

It also ques­tioned why some 640,000 shares it said were bought with pub­lic money to in­vest in a pub­lic-pri­vate com­pany, Yangon Met­ro­pol­i­tan Devel­op­ment Pub­lic, in­cor­po­rated in last March, were held un­der the pri­vate name of the re­gional fi­nance min­is­ter, Myint Thaung, in­stead of un­der his of­fi­cial ti­tle.

The re­gional govern­ment dropped the case af­ter Pres­i­dent Win Myint is­sued a di­rec­tive calling on them to try to re­solve the com­plaint through the Myan­mar Press Coun­cil.

Yangon’s Chief Min­is­ter, Phyo Min Thein, told a press con­fer­ence at­tended largely by state me­dia early last month that the re­gional govern­ment would con­tinue le­gal ac­tion against the jour­nal­ists if the ne­go­ti­a­tions were un­suc­cess­ful.

Myan­mar Press Coun­cil chair Ohn Kyaing said he be­lieves that the coun­cil can me­di­ate the dis­pute.

Ohn Kyaing said: “We will keep go­ing un­til both par­ties are sat­is­fied. It would be dif­fer­ent if we were un­able to ne­go­ti­ate, but I think we can.”

Eleven me­dia edi­tor in chief Kyaw Zaw Linn (L) and chief re­porter Phyo Wai Win (C) leave from Tamwe town­ship court af­ter their trial in Yangon, Myan­mar. Photo: EPA

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