Geneva/Guwahati, Aug 06:
Expressing serious concerns over the latest crisis faced by the people of Myanmar (formerly Burma) due to Covid-19 pandemic under a military regime in NayPieTaw, the Switzerland based global media rights body ‘Press Emblem Campaign’ demands all political prisoners including the journalists to be released without any prerequisite.
It may be mentioned that military rulers of south-Asian nation have so far killed at least 945 people, arrested over 7,026, detained (or sentenced) nearly 5,474 and displaced more than 230,000 ethnic minorities since the coup on 1 February 2021 overthrowing the democratically elected Aung San Suu Kyi’s government.
“The Burmese junta has arrested no less than 98 journalists where 43 scribes are still behind the bars. Moreover, the military authority has crushed the free press compelling a number of media houses to lock their offices and even forced many journalists to go on hide to avoid the harassment (if not arrest) on a daily basis,” said Blaise Lempen, general secretary of PEC (https://pressemblem.ch/).
Recently a group of Nobel peace laureates came out with the statement to call for release of Myanmar’s leading women rights defender Thin Thin Aung, who cofounded the Mizzima News group based in Yangon. Ms Aung is among hundreds who are facing imprisonments over materials (unpleasant to junta) published and broadcast by media outlets.
“Mizzima is outlawed and our offices are repeatedly raided. We are now operating from hideouts,” said Soe Myint, the chief editor of Mizzima group while speaking to PEC’s India representative Nava Thakuria, adding that despite all threats and troubles multiple media outlets of Mizzima continue to operate with primary aim to oppose the military coup and help restoring multi-party democracy in Myanmar.
Meanwhile, exile activists argued that the military chief Min Aung Hlaing is trying to legitimise the Burmese junta with asking international community for offering humanitarian aids to Myanmar’s 60 million people. They pointed out that Myanmar is presently facing the pandemic with lesser number of vaccinated citizens and low-quality medical cares across the country.
“The human rights and humanitarian disasters have now been compounded in Myanmar following the latest wave of flood. The military junta has weaponized both the corona and flood for its own political gain,” said Khin Ohmar, chairperson of Progressive Voice, while responding to PEC queries, adding that the junta is using relief efforts to the health disaster as a ploy to gain its much-needed legitimacy.