WEEKLY MEDIA ROUNDUP (24 – 30 June 2017)

Here are some of the press freedom- and free expression-related events and issues you might have missed last week:


Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA)

[Myanmar] Immediately release three detained journalists

See also:

Burma News International (BNI)
The Statement of Fifth Ethnic Media Conference” ; “Ethnic Media Conference calls for the release of three detained journalists


[Cambodia] Joint Statement: CSOs condemn discriminatory denial of medical care to #FreeThe5KH detainees


General News

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO): “UNESCO launches book on protecting journalists and combatting impunity”

“Although attacks on journalists continue unabated, there are examples of successful grassroots and global efforts to stem this tide…. This was the key message by Albana Shala, Chairperson of the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), when she flagged the IPDC’s latest publication titled An Attack on One is an Attack on All: Successful Initiatives to Protect and Combat Impunity.”


Southeast Asia

The Straits Times: “Internet giants face pressure as regional governments get assertive

“In a region run by a range of democracies and dictatorships – some of them grappling with political intrigues, communal tensions, rural-urban disaffection and terrorism – there is no definitive standard of illegal content. Observers have alleged that political dissent is being restricted under the guise of curbing hate speech and fake news.”



Radio Free Asia (RFA): “Yangon Court Rejects Detained Editor’s Fourth Bail Request

“A Yangon court on Friday (23 June 2017) rejected the fourth bail request of a Myanmar editor charged with defamation of the military under a widely challenged section of the country’s Telecommunications Law, as a group of journalists began collecting signatures outside the courthouse calling for the controversial article to be abolished…. Bahan Township court also rejected the request of Kyaw Min Swe, editor-in-chief of the independent newspaper The Voice Daily, to hold his trial at different court.”


The Irrawaddy: “Hundreds Protest Detainment of Journalists, Repressive Laws

“Several hundred Myanmar press members and civil society representatives protested in Yangon on Friday (30 June 2017), calling for the release of detained journalists under the colonial-era Unlawful Associations Act and the repeal of the controversial online defamation law.”

See also:

Journalists: NLD Spokesman’s Comments on Detained Reporters Highlight Legal ‘Double Standard’
DVB: “DVB reporters among seven detained after TNLA drug-burning event” ; “Burmese media groups demand release of DVB, Irrawaddy journalists
Mizzima: “Ethnic Media Conference demands end to laws that oppress media freedom
Asian Correspondent: “Fate, whereabouts of arrested Burmese journalists still unknown – reports
The Washington Post: “As Burmese journalists are arrested, Aung San Suu Kyi isn’t doing much to help
The New York Times: “‘Climate of Fear’ Grips Journalists in Myanmar After Arrests


Myanmar Now: “As online defamation cases grow, cartoonists face self-censorship and rejection

“Terrorism, armed conflict, drug trafficking and child soldiers.These are some of the subjects that Myanmar cartoonist Maung Maung Phaung Tain gets nervous about…. He wasn’t always so worried, but a spike in online defamation cases under the current government of Aung San Suu Kyi has him on edge…. The cases have skyrocketed since Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy came to power in 2016, raising concerns about a chilling effect on freedom of expression in Myanmar.”

See also:

The Irrawaddy: “Media Urges Govt to Scrap Article 66(d)” ; “Soldier Photographs Reporters at Article 66(d) Hearing
Joint Statement by 61 Human Rights Organizations. “Burma: Repeal Section 66(d) of the 2013 Telecommunications Law


The Irrawaddy. “Dateline Irrawaddy: Govt ‘Has Done Nothing’ for Independent Ethnic Media

“The role of ethnic media is important in Myanmar, which is a multiethnic country. This week, founder and chief editor of Arakanese media Narinjara News Agency U Khaing Myat Kyaw and ethnic Kachin reporter Ma Nan Lwin Pwint of The Irrawaddy join me to discuss ethnic media.”



ABS-CBN News: “No need for special law against fake news-CMFR

“The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility does not see the need for a separate law intended for penalizing those spreading fake news…. Vergel Santos, CMFR chair, argued that current laws against libel and slander already provide enough safeguards against fake news. He added that such a law may also be used against journalists.”

See also:

The Manila Times: (Opinion) “How do you jail phantom warriors?


Philippine Daily Inquirer: “Duterte’s FOI order leads to ‘unintended consequences’

“President Rodrigo Duterte’s issuance of an executive order on freedom of information (FOI) was a much-lauded move and a step in the right direction, but it has had ‘unintended consequences’ that have not always led to greater transparency.”

See also:

ABS-CBN News. “Some gov’t agencies still ‘reluctant’ to grant public access to information: Palace official


philstar.com: “Artist sued for online libel over ‘critical’ poems on Facebook

“An artist from Angono, Rizal was arrested for online libel over alleged critical poems he posted on Facebook…. Poet Danilo Diaz was arrested Friday (23 June 2017) night last week by Tarlac City police. Diaz was freed Tuesday (27 June 2017) after paying bail of P12,000, Angono artist Richard Gappi wrote on Facebook page Angono Rizal News Online, a local community journalism site where he serves as editor.”


The Manila Times: “Task force vs media killings hailed

“The Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) was hailed by media workers themselves and family members of victims, citing the task force’s moves to seek justice for the victims.”


Rappler.com: “DICT assures sustained push for 3 big projects at grand event

“Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Secretary Rodolfo A. Salalima issued this statement on Friday, June 23 in relation to the implementation of the government’s Free Wi-Fi Internet Access in Public Places Project, also know as Pipol Konek…. He spoke at the ‘One Connection, One Nation,’ an event that served as a reintroduction of the DICT’s 3 flagship projects: Pipol Konek, the National Government Portal (NGP), and the National Broadband Plan (NBP).”

See also:

manilastandard.net: “‘Speed up National Broadband Plan’


Philippine Information Agency (PIA): “Andanar cites PH-China cooperation to boost media development

“Presidential Communications Operation Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin M. Andanar on Thursday (29 June 2017) commended the Philippine-China cooperation to boost the country’s communications skills…. In his opening remarks during the courtesy call of Chinese delagation in Malacanang, Andanar admitted that he has learned a lot in his recent visit to China with regards to new technology used in broadcast, print and news wire agencies, and would like to apply these to the government’s integrated media arm — People’s Television 4 (PTV 4), Philippine Broadcasting Service (PBS), Philippine News Agency (PNA), and the Philippine Information Agency (PIA).”



iLaw. “Proposed Media Licensing Laws: Looking at Our Neighbours’ Oppressive Licensing Regimes

“…the Thai public has already been a victim of the current oppressive censorship laws on journalism through arbitrary and sweeping executive decrees. The addition of media licensing laws to these instruments of censorship will only contribute to an environment where critical, important publications that have great social value in exposing government excesses are locked and where increased self-censorship are practiced by journalists who are afraid of their licenses being revoked. The examples of our regional neighbours are proof of these effects.”

See also:

The Nation: “Media standards already drawn up, pre-empting proposed council” ; “Media urged to act as bridge between government and people


ABC. “Murder babes: The grisly killing that made Thailand re-examine its own media culture

“They became known as the ‘murder babes’ — three Thai women in their 20s who went on the run after killing and dismembering a young bar worker…. Local media became obsessed with the case, elevating the suspects to celebrities until they turned themselves in and confessed to the murder…. While the story continued to adorn the front pages of newspapers, some people in Thailand profited from the crime.”


Prachatai English: “Court refuses to free human rights lawyer accused of royal defamation

“The Criminal Court has for the sixth time refused to release a human rights lawyer facing up to 50 years in prison for royal defamation and sedition…. On 26 June 2017, the Bangkok Criminal Court renewed the pre-trial detention period for Prawais Prapanugool, a human rights lawyer accused of violating Articles 112 and 116 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law and the sedition law.”


Prachatai English: “Man charged for mocking late King’s dog to face military court

“The Commission on Jurisdiction of Courts has decided that a lèse majesté suspect accused of mocking the late King’s favourite dog will be tried in a military court…. On 26 June 2017, the Military Court of Bangkok read the verdict of the Commission on Jurisdiction of Courts on the case against Thanakorn S., a 27-year-old man from Samut Prakan Province.”


Khaosod English: “Activist presses on with petition over Thai-Chinese railway

“Released after being detained overnight, pro-democracy activist Rangsiman Rome said Monday (26 June 2017) he would continue to demand transparency over a 179-billion baht rail project the Thai military government recently signed with China.”


Prachatai English: “Youtube unblocks The Great Dictator in Thailand

“Though the film has returned, the laws that give authorities absolute censorship power still remain…. On 27 June 2017, Thai netizens were able to access the ‘The Great Dictator’ again, following its previous ban at the junta’s request.”

See also:

Global Voices: “At Thailand’s Request, YouTube Blocks Video Clip of Charlie Chaplin’s ‘The Great Dictator’


Bangkok Post: “Advertisers protest as military TV sets separate censorship

“The Advertising Association of Thailand (AAT) has asked BBTV’s Channel 7 and Channel 5 to explain why they have established their own censorship association, given the waste of time and money that such a group would represent.”


Bangkok Post. “OTT: NBTC wins over more advertisers

“The last batch of Thailand’s top 10 advertising spenders have agreed to comply with the national telecom regulator’s directive to stop advertising on over-the-top (OTT) platforms that refuse to register with the authority…. The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) called on the country’s biggest ad spenders yesterday (29 June 2017) to boycott non-compliant OTTs, whose failure to register may be considered criminal acts.”

See also:

NBTC puts pressure on OTT advertisers
The Nation: “Controversy over regulation of OTT content on Internet



The New York Times: “With Social Media, Vietnam’s Dissidents Grow Bolder Despite Crackdown

“In authoritarian Vietnam, the internet has become the de facto forum for the country’s growing number of dissenting voices. Facebook connections in particular have mobilized opposition to government policies; they played a key role in mass protests against the state’s handling of an environmental disaster last year. Now, the government is tightening its grip on the internet, arresting and threatening bloggers, and pressing Facebook and YouTube to censor what appears on their sites.”

See also:

Asian Correspondent: “Vietnam sentences blogger to 10 years’ prison for defaming govt
The Guardian: “Vietnamese blogger jailed for 10 years for ‘defaming’ regime
Reuters. “Vietnam police detain dissident for deportation: wife
Al Jazeera: “Vietnam exiles dissident after revoking his citizenship



Please refer to this blog for other media, press freedom, and free expression stories not included in this roundup.

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