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It seems the government are suitably disgruntled at the short queue of armed ethnic groups lining up to join the much-anticipated ceasefire, leading the office of the Defence Commander-in-Chief to issue a directive to the media at large – to stop referring to rebel leaders by their chosen military titles.
Moving to strip the ethnic group leaders of their honorific rankings, the department of information sent a letter to the regional Press Council in Irrawaddy Division. The regional government confirmed the letter, but refused to provide further insight into their general demands.
Zaw Thet Htwe, a member of the Interim Myanmar Press Council, said Burmese army officials had recently hinted at their displeasure over the military titles.
“They informally told us that mentioning the rebel leaders by their military ranks such as ‘General’ will lead to questions as to which military academy they graduated from, how many soldiers are under their command, and whether the use of these terms is appropriate – as someone can self-appoint themselves to senior rank while leading only a handful of soldiers,” Zaw Thet Htwe said, before adding that the Press Council had not received official notification of the directive.
Myint Kyaw of the Myanmar Journalist Network said neither the government nor the military have the authority to place such a restriction on the media.
“As these ethnic organisations in particular are also armed groups, I think their leaders should have the right to hold military titles – it is not bias or a breach of media ethic to refer to them by their military ranking,” Myint Kyaw said.
“There is no legal ground for the Burmese army to restrict this.
The Burmese military may be longing for the glory days, where junta-operated state media referred to leaders of armed groups with the derogatory prefix nga, meaning peasants or undesirables.
Stay tuned to see whether DVB make the switch.