Burmese media groups call for Thai junta to release journalists

Burmese media groups call for Thai junta to release journalists

Burma’s two major media organisations have expressed concerns over media restrictions and the detention of Thai journalists by the [Thai] junta.

They sent their statements via the Bangkok-based Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA), a non-profit organisation campaigning for press freedom in Southeast Asia.

They demanded the junta quickly restore press freedom to their fellow Thai journalists.

The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has “requested cooperation” from all types of local media outlets to refrain from reporting content that might be provocative, incite public disorder or opposition to the efforts following the military coup d’état last Thursday.

It urged the media to consider the interests of the country and people as a priority.

Thanapol Eiwsakul, editor of the magazine Fah Diew Gan (Same Sky) was arrested following an anti-coup protest on Friday.

On Sunday, a senior reporter from The Nation, Pravit Rojanaphruk, was taken into custody after the junta summoned him. Both are being held in custody.

Some reporters have also been called in by the military, including Bangkok Post security reporter Wassana Nanuam.

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The Myanmar Journalist Network (MJN) on Tuesday said it was “saddened” and “seriously concerned” over the fact that some Thai journalists had been detained by the Thai army. “We condemn the actions by the military,” it said.

It said Burmese journalists had a long experience of suffering under a military regime and understood the plight of their Thai counterparts.

The organisation urged the Burmese government, in its capacity as the current chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), to help secure the release of the detained Thai journalists.

“MJN will stand together with the Thai journalists for press freedom in Thailand,” it said.

“Those who have been detained must be released unconditionally.”

The Myanmar Journalists Association (MJA) also spoke out on the same day, saying Burmese journalists had great sympathy with their Thai colleagues because they experienced “similar restrictions and persecutions under former governments”.

The MJA has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Thai Journalists Association.

“We would like to appeal earnestly to the Thai military junta to restore the freedom of the press after lifting the restrictions on Thai journalists and ceasing arbitrary arrests if they really desire to bring about genuine national reconciliation and safeguard democracy,” it said.

 

This article was originally published in the Bangkok Post on 29 May 2014.

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