The IPI global network condemns the recent decision by Myanmar’s ruling military junta to ban the independent media outlet The Irrawaddy. The military regime should immediately reverse this move and allow independent media in the country to operate freely.
The ordered closure of The Irrawaddy came in a statement issued by state media on October 29. Authorities allege that the outlet’s reporting is damaging state security, the rule of law, and public tranquility.
The military regime had previously targeted the news outlet with arrests, threats, lawsuits, and raids. Recently, the military junta threatened to take legal action against The Irrawaddy and BBC Burmese Service for “misreporting” an incident in which three Buddhist pilgrims were shot and killed. This caused staff to go into hiding.
In a statement on its website, The Irrawaddy called the ban the first public acknowledgment of the regime’s efforts to suppress its reporting. The outlet has been working mainly in exile. Editor-in-Chief Aung Zaw told IPI that the newly ordered ban will not stop them from reporting.
“We continue our reporting even though the Myanmar military regime revoked our publishing license”, Zaw said. “Readers from inside and outside of the country can continue to access our publication on the website and on various digital platforms. Our readership keeps on growing, as the people want credible, reliable news and analysis.”
“IPI strongly condemns the Myanmar military junta’s ordered closure of The Irrawaddy, which is an obvious attempt at silencing independent news and information in the country. Authorities should immediately reverse this decision and allow The Irrawaddy and all other independent news outlets to operate freely in Myanmar”, IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said.
“The targeting of The Irrawaddy is the latest attack on press freedom by the military regime, which has cracked down brutally on journalists and news outlets following last year’s coup. The international community must do more to pressure the junta to respect fundamental rights and reinstate democracy.”
The ban follows a worrying crackdown on the media environment in Myanmar since the military junta took power in a coup early 2021. In October alone, Japanese journalist Toru Kubota was sentenced to ten years in jail for filming an anti-junta protest and journalist Sithu Aung Myint was sentenced to three years in prison for incitement.