Today, May 3, thousands of netizens have marked World Press Freedom Day by tweeting with several hashtags, slogan #JournalismIsNotACrime. I have no idea who the slogan came with, but it has always made me a little bit unworthy. For a profession that works in the written word, from “is” to “meaning”, it exhibits a lewd degree of semantic slippage. Although journalism should not be a crime, but there are definitely many nations in which journalism is very much is A crime, and for quite unsuspecting reasons.
Take Myanmar itself, where the country’s junta has been arrested since the military coup of 1 February. Estimated 73 journalists And media persons, during the last decade of political liberalization, closed the open door, which got stuck in its clutches and opened.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), at least 40 of them remained behind bars until 28 April. CPJ senior southeast representative Sean Crispin said in a statement that with the coup, Myanmar “became one almost overnight” as the worst jailer of journalists around the world. “
According to the CPJ, most of those arrested were detained during a newsroom raid or during protests covering the country’s rolling anti-coup. During 2010, two of the local journalists who worked for some of the dozens of local detainees from Kachin State to the Tannithari region are detained.
More than half of those detained have been charged under Article 505 (a) of the Myanmar Antique Penal Code, which criminalizes the spread of misinformation or “fake news” that rebels security forces or officials Can cause The charge carries a sentence of imprisonment of up to three years. The handling of their cases has predictably slipped, with many being denied access to arrested lawyers or family members.
This rift has effectively halted the period of relative openness that began in earnest in 2012, with the country’s pre-publication elimination of the old system of censorship. Since the coup, the junta has revoked the operating licenses of five privately run news outlets – Mizima, Myanmar Now, 7D News, Democratic Voice of Burma, and Khit Thit Media – that have been undergoing years of reform. Thrive in a more open environment.
In its most recent World Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders commented that the coup “has overtaken Myanmar’s journalists ten years,” driving many back underground. “Journalists are living in fear because there is no security for us,” a senior editor at Myanmar’s news agency told Radio Free Asia this week. “The flow of news in this country has almost stopped.”
The arrest of journalists and the withdrawal of media licenses has come on a spectrum of repression including night-time internet blackouts, and in early April, the shutdown of mobile Internet services across the country. It reflects the realities of a digitally networked public sector in which the line between the professional journalist and the one posting the video on social media is blurred.
The fierce press crackdown and the concomitant internet blackout represent Junta’s recognition of the fact that Myanmar’s anti-coup campaign is for the network’s social movements, such as “attention is oxygen”, whether captured from traditional media outlets or smartphones to the citizen Have you taken a journalist. The Junta’s crackdown is therefore a crude and arrogant, but otherwise predictable attempt to defend its coup and crush popular resistance in the streets.
In this context, the similarities of the importance of an independent press on World Press Independence Day differ from the elite regions of the Tatmadov High Command. Journalism is undoubtedly “the cornerstone of democratic societies and a source of legitimacy that must be protected and guaranteed unconditionally,” Statement Today 17 foreign diplomatic missions in Myanmar are excluded. But does anyone believe that Myanmar’s army, which has now killed at least 765 people in defense of its putach, has any kind of genuine interest?
In a significant way, the slogan of #JournalismIsNotACrime underscores the power and potential of the press, both jeopardizing economic and political interests and, as the old adage goes, “to comfort and torment the victim.” ” While journalism should not be explicitly criminalized, the fact that Myanmar’s junta is treating it as a criminal act actually serves as a cruel and backhanded acknowledgment of the nation’s brave and besieged journalists, whose work. It would be necessary to build a truly democratic Myanmar.