Originally published on the BNI website on 20 October 2016.
Independent media outlets covering the Shan State Hluttaw (parliament) in the state capital Taunggyi have been discriminated against and are being restricted in their coverage of the parliament.
Khun Zaw Oo from the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) said that the only media allowed to take photos and film video of the parliament during its sessions are the Information and Public Relations Department from the Ministry of Information and Myawady, MRTV, and SkyNet TV.
He said: “Independent media, who are not state-owned media, have to cover the news from a TV placed inside a tent outside the parliament. The sound quality from the sound box is unclear. We can’t take photos. The photos taken from the TV screen are of bad quality. This is especially bad for broadcasting media. We can’t take photo when there is reflection from the TV. The sound is quite unclear so we don’t know what is being said [in the parliament].”
U Kyaw Thu Zaw, the director of the Parliament Office, told S.H.A.N that the Information and Public Relations Department has to be allowed to cover news from inside the parliament because they have a duty to inform the public about what is happening in parliament, but that no other media organisations would be allowed in the parliament.
He said: “We have only allowed them [the Information and Public Relations Department] in because the parliament is very small. There is no space for observers from outside, even when broadcasting groups come to film inside the parliament. It is distracting for the parliamentary representatives.”
Si Thar Hein, a reporter from Eleven Media, said that the restriction is an act of discrimination against independent media and that independent media as well as state media should be allowed inside the parliament.
He also said that he wants the Shan State Hluttaw to allow all the media to cover parliament properly, as in all the other state and regional hluttaws.
Khun Zaw Oo pointed out that according to the media bylaw the authorities have no right to prevent the media from taking photos and videos of parliament unless they have a good reason.
He said: “The Shan State Hluttaw needs to reduce the restrictions. We are not making excess demands. We are only demanding media rights in line with the law.”
Reporting by Nan Sai Phoo for S.H.A.N.
Translated by Thida Linn
Edited in English by Mark Inkey for BNI