Five media outlets shut down in Myanmar, one raided
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns yesterday evening’s sudden decision by Myanmar’s military junta to shut down five media outlets that have been providing independent coverage of the protests since the coup on 1 February. RSF also denounces the shocking violation of the confidentiality of sources allowed by a raid on one of the outlets earlier in the day.
The military government’s decision to cancel the licences of 7 Day News, Democratic Voice of Burma, Khit Thit News, Mizzima and Myanmar Now was announced without any warning by state-owned MRTV during its evening news broadcast. These media are no longer allowed to publish or broadcast articles, programmes or reports or transmit messages via social media, the announcement said.
Earlier yesterday, dozens of soldiers and police searched Myanmar Now’s headquarters in Yangon after smashing the padlocks sealing the entrance, and left with a great deal of material and documents but made no arrests. The premises were empty because Myanmar Now’s staff had not been using them even since the possibility of a coup was first rumoured on 28 January.
“We call on Myanmar’s military authorities to immediately restore the licences of the five banned media outlets,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk. “The raid on Myanmar Now’s premises is a shocking act of intimidation and an intolerable violation of the confidentiality of sources. The UN Security Council must lose no time in reaching an agreement to sanction the ruling junta’s commanders and cut short their escalation towards the complete elimination of press freedom.”
Myanmar Now editor Swe Win confirmed to RSF that he had been expecting a raid of this kind ever since the start of last month’s coup. The level of persecution to which Myanmar’s journalists are being subjected has reached a new level, he said, adding: “We are now at a point where continuing to do our jobs means risking being jailed or killed.”
A Myanmar Now reporter, Kay Zon Nway, was arrested while live-streaming a protest on 27 February and has been placed in provisional detention in Insein prison until 12 March at least. According to RSF’s tally, she is one of the at least 11 journalists currently in prison following a police round-up ten days ago.
Myanmar is ranked 139th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2020 World Press Freedom Index.