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Myanmar Government Slaps Defamation Charges on Local Weekly

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■ NEITHER WAR NOR PEACE The Future of cease-fire Agreements in Burma
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Myanmar Government Slaps Defamation Charges on Local Weekly

2014-11-07
myanmar-newspapers-april-2014.jpg

Newspapers are displayed at a stall in Yangon, April 11, 2014.

AFP

The Myanmar government has pressed defamation charges against 11 staff of the Myanmar Herald after the paper carried an interview with a political scientist criticizing President Thein Sein, an editor of the journal said Friday.

Editor-in-charge Aung Tun Lin told RFA’s Myanmar Service that the Herald employees had been charged under the new Media Law for allegedly tarnishing the reputation of Thein Sein.

According to the information ministry, the Myanmar Herald Journal ran an interview in which political scientist Myo Yan Naung Thein described the president’s words as “gibberish, irrational, cheap, and inconsistent … completely nonsensical, absurd, and insane.”

“We have been summoned to court on Nov. 14 for violating Media Law section 25(b),” he said, adding that the hearing would take place in the capital Naypyidaw’s Pokebathiri township.

“Eleven of us, including chief editor Kyaw Swar Win and publishing officer Zeya Moe, have been summoned.”

Aung Tun Lin said that the charges, which are the first to be brought by the Ministry of Information against a publication since the Media Law was passed in March this year, were unusual in that they were also leveled against newspaper distribution staff.

“In other cases [against publications], only the editors-in-chief and the writers were sued,” he said.

“Here they have included not only all of the editorial staff, but also the distribution staff, who have nothing to do with the matter.”

The 11 employees face fines of between 300,000 kyats (U.S. $295) and 1,000,000 kyats (U.S. $985) if found guilty.

The Ministry of Information said the interview the Herald published in August with Myo Yan Naung Thein contained criticism of the president that was extreme.

But Aung Tun Lin questioned why the ministry only decided to pursue legal action against the Herald for publishing Myo Yan Naung Thein’s comments when editors ran another highly critical interview with senior opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party official Tin Oo a week later.

“In addition to publishing Myo Yan Naung Thain’s interview, the following week we published Tin Oo’s views and criticisms, in which he strongly criticized the president,” he said.

“Now we must ask the Ministry of Information why they are only suing us for what Myo Yan Naung Thain has said.”

Apology not accepted

Aung Tun Lin said that before the dispute progressed to court action, the two sides had joined mediation meetings through the Myanmar Press Council (MPC), during which the ministry had demanded that the Herald print an apology.

“We did what we could … and apologized to a certain extent, but they did not accept it. They just went ahead and sued,” he said.

Aung Tun Lin defended his publication’s decision to run the interviews, saying that the public has the right to read a variety of perspectives on how Thein Sein’s quasi-civilian government is progressing with democratic reforms since taking over from the former junta in 2011.

“We don’t only publish what the government says; we also publish the views of the opposition if we think that they should be made known,” he said.

Under Myanmar’s nearly five decades of military rule, journalists were forbidden to cover certain topics such as corruption, poverty, and natural disasters, and government crackdowns landed many reporters in prison.

Thein Sein’s reformist administration has implemented a series of reforms to push Myanmar towards democracy, including new laws enshrining media freedom.

But rights groups say that the intimidation and arrest of journalists appeared to be worsening in the former military state, even though official censorship has ended.

While Aung Tun Lin acknowledged that the media has enjoyed significantly more room to operate in Myanmar within the last three years, “to say that it is free—I don’t think that we have reached such a stage as yet.”

“We [in the media] have pointed out in transparent terms the shortcomings, drawbacks, and weaknesses of the government and I wonder if they are making an example out of us so that we will not dare to write about them,” he said.

Outcome unknown

He also expressed concerns over other media organizations that have been targeted by the government, including the Eleven Media Group—four staff members of which the Ministry of Information filed criminal charges of defamation against late last month.

The group’s Weekly Eleven had published an article in June questioning whether the Media Law then before parliament favored state-owned media, and alleged misuse of public revenue by the ministry over suspiciously high prices it had paid for a printing press.

Aung Tun Lin said that the Herald would have to wait and see whether it would get a fair shake in legal proceedings initiated by the government against its journalists and those of other media organizations.

“[According to the Constitution] all three of the respective arms of governance—namely, the judicial, the legislative and the executive branches—must operate independently of one another,” he said.

“Now that [the ministry] has filed a suit, we will have to wait until court is in session to know to what extent the proceedings with be just and fair.”

Reported by Ma San Maw Aung for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Soe Thinn. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

http://www.rfa.org/english/news/myanmar/defamation-11072014164628.html

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Australia Campaign for Burma
Campaign for Burma
Austrian Burma Center
Actions Birmanie
Canadian Friends of Burma
Burma Center Prague
People in Need
Danish Burma Committee
Campaign for Democracy in Burma (Finland)
Info Birmanie
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Democracy for Burma
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Birmania Campaign
Burma Info
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FBC-SA
Birmania por la Paz
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Association Suisse-Birmanie
Strategy and Build
All Burma Federation of Student Unions (Foreign Affairs Committee)
Burma Partnership
Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma
Burmese community organisation
United States Campaign for Burma
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National Council of the Union of Burma
Altsean
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Amnesty International Crimes against Humanity in Eastern Burma report
Article 19
Assistance Association for Political Prisoners - Burma
EarthRights International
Free Burma’s Political Prisoners Now
Human Rights Treaties ratified by Burma
Human Rights Watch - Burma page
International Labour Organisation: Report on Forced Labour in Burma
Landmine Monitor Report: Burma 2008
Reporters without Borders
Arakan Rohingya National Organization (ARNO)
Christian Solidarity Worldwide

REPORTS

UNSC Report No. 1- 4 Oct 2007
Update Report 19 September 2007_Myanmar (UNSC Report)
Update Report 22 Nov 2006_Myanmar
UN Report- Myanmar Opium Survey - Oct 2004
UNSC Report No. 1 - 10 September 2008
UNSC Report No. 4- 14 May 2008
Security Council-Report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in Myanmar
Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar
Thayer The Myammar/Burma Issue: After Sanctions
■ SUPPLY AND COMMAND
■ Gas & Oil Connections - Myanmar lost to China- India's encirclement complete
AI Report June 2008
AI Report November 2007 AI Report December 2007
AI Report June 2005
AI Report on Myanmar briefing after Nargis
EIU Country Report :March 2009
EIU Annual Report : 2007
EU Conclusion on Myanmar - Oct 2007
Amnesty International- Sep 2007
■ A History of the Burma Socialist Party by Kyaw Zaw Win

NUCLEAR

■ Recognition of Burma's Proliferation
■ Plagiarism in the Burma Nuclear SCOOP
■ Nuclear Proliferation and Burma the Hidden Connection
■ Burma's Secret Agreement With North Korea
■ BURMA-A-Threat-to-International-Security-and-Peace
■ Additional-Burmese-Missile-Sites-Identified
■ WMD Nexus Between North Korea and Burma
■ Where's the State Dept Nuclear Report on Burma
■ BURMA DIGEST Interview on Burma Nuclear
■ Analysis of Burma's Nuclear Program 1
■ Analysis of Burma's Nuclear Program 2
■ Russia Burma Nuclear Intelligence Report-1
■ Russia Burma Nuclear Intelligence Report-2
■ Arm-Including Nuke Dealing With N-Korea
■ Burma's China Connection and the India Ocean Region By Andrew Selth
■ NEITHER WAR NOR PEACE The Future of cease-fire Agreements in Burma
■ A Historical Overview of Political Transition in Myanmar Since 1988
■ Sino-Myanmar Economic Relations Since 1988
■ The Road to Naypyidaw- Making Sense of the Myanmar Government's Decision to Move its Capital
■ Southern Thai Politics - A Preliminary Overview

UN WORLD BODIES

Vale Earth Fair
Conservative Party Human Rights Commission
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
US State Department report on Burma
US State Department report on human rights in Burma
Witness CIA World Factbook - Burma
News Statesman special issue on Burma (Jun 08)
Global Health Facts
HIV Information for Myanmar (HIM)
Mae Tao Clinic (Dr Cynthia’s clinic)
Three Diseases Fund

ART

Art-Exiled Burmese Hip Hop
Identity and Design

Library

Online Burma Library

Journalism

Development Gateway
Human Security Gateway
Inside Burma - Land of Fear
Inside Burma - Land of Fear

Aung San Suu Kyi Pages

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi pages
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi pages
Free Aung San Suu Kyi

PHOTOGRAPHY

■ Images of Suspected Uranium Mine and Refinery in Burma
Exile Images: Photography
Grace under Pressure
Kalama Sutta
Karen guerillas

MOVIES

Shwe Dream
Burma VJ
Inside Burma - Land of Fear
Inside Burma - Land of Fear
Moving to Mars
Kalama Sutta
The Hub, by Witness.

MONKS

English
Burmese

BDC SITES

Bdcburma
Bdcburma Burmese
Music
Italian
Swedish
Youtube
French
German
Bdc wordpress
Russia
Norwegian
Spanish
Hindi/ India
Portuguese
Italian
Dutch
Swedish
Japanese
News and Entertainment Portal
Flickr
Radio

BLOGS SITES

Nguyinpyin
Rebound88
Redo8888
Dr Lunswe
Lanka-msma
Damaahdama
Myo Chit myanmar
Maynyane
Flying Peacock
Maykha
Aeinstein
Moethaukkye
Binamo
Absdf8888
Blc Burma
DPNS
Ko Moe Thee
drlunswe
khinmamamyo
ko-htike
niknayman
soneseayar
maungdine
mmedwatch
maynyane
nineninesanay
linletkyalsin
shwebothar
peacefulwalkingtogether
publicenemies
weunite-weblog
freedomuprising
pu-htu-zin
internationalcampaignforfreedom Blog Generation Wave

ETNIC SITES

Chin Youth
Feraya,s new website-taigress
Free Burma Rangers
Hurform- HRF of Monland
Karen Human Rights Group
KNL Japan
KNU
Mae Sod Border action
Phan Foundation
Chin Human Rights Organization
Drum Publications
Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM)
Karen National Union (KNU)
Karen Women’s Organisation (KWO)
Karenni Homeland
Karenni Students Union (KSU)
Kawthoolei
Kuki Forum (KIF)
Rohingyas, the Forgotten People Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN)
The Chin Forum
The Rohingya Minority

WOMEN

Burmese Women’s Union
Kachin Women’s Association Thailand
Karen Women’s Organisation (KWO)
Karenni National Women’s Organization
Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN)
WEAVE - Women’s Education for Advancement and Empowerment
Women’s League of Burma
Women’s League of Chinland

NGOS

Burma Diaspora
Help without Frontiers
http://www.helfenohnegrenzen.de/
Latest IDP figure for Burma - Internal Displacement Monitoring Group
WEAVE - Women’s Education for Advancement and Empowerment
All Burma Federation of Student Unions (Foreign Affairs Committee)
All Burma Students’ Democratic Front
Burma Education Partnership (BEP)
Human Rights Education Institute of Burma
Prospect Burma
Federation of Trade Unions - Burma
Global Unions: Companies linked to Burma
Burma Border Projects (BBP)
Burma Children Medical Fund (BCMF)
International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)
Burma Diaspora

SPDC SITES

New Light of Myanmar
The State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) website

ENVIRONMENTAL

Karen Rivers Watch
Living River Siam
Project Maje
Salween watch
Association for Sustainable and Responsible Investment in Asia
Burma Economic Watch
Business and Human Rights Resource Centre
Global Unions: Companies linked to Burma
Salween watch
SEEcompanies.com
Shwe Gas Movement
AIDS, TB, Malaria and Bird Flu spread unchecked in Burma
Back Pack Health Worker Team

NLD SITES

National League for Democracy (NLD) Liberated area UK Branch
NLD Japan
The National League For Democracy

Media SITES

BBC Burmese
Burmadaily
Burmanet
Democratic Voice of Burma
mizzima news
NEW ERA JOURNAL-KHITPYAING
Special Burma News
Shan Herald Agency
Kwekalu Karen News
Kuki Forum
Karen Information Center(KIC)
Burmese Events in UK
Burma Rivers Network
Mizzima Burmese
Burma Digest
Hit Tai
Khitpyaing
Burma Today
Burma daily
Burmalibrary
Yoma3
Kachin News
Kachin Post
Kaowao Newsgroup
Karen Human Rights Group
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