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CPJ condemns threats against journalists in Meiktila

Following severe violence and intimidation against reporters covering the inter-communal riots that erupted in Central Myanmar on March 20, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on authorities to ensure the security of journalists.

Journalists at a Myanmar presidential press conference. (Photo: Ye Min / Mizzima)
Journalists at a Myanmar presidential press conference. (Photo: Ye Min / Mizzima)
“We condemn the threats and intimidation of journalists covering the recent communal riots in Burma,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ's senior Southeast Asia representative. “Authorities are obliged to ensure the security of journalists working in conflict areas. We are concerned that Thein Sein's administration has not prioritized its obligation to protect the press.”

Various media outlets have described shocking attacks and intimidation by Buddhist monks and members of the mob on reporters: One AP photographer said that he had a foot-long dagger held to his throat, while he surrendered the memory card from his camera and both the Democratic Voice of Burma and The Irrawaddy said that their reporters were threatened and forced to delete camera footage.

Radio Free Asia (RFA) told of a group of nine journalists who were threatened by a gang of armed Buddhist monks as they photographed them destroying a mosque.

“We saw a group of monks destroying a mosque and a house near Thiri Street [in Meiktila] as we were in a car taking some pictures in town,” RFA reporter Kyaw Zaw Win said.

“The monks saw us. Suddenly, they surrounded our car and forced us out,” he said. “They put a knife to a reporter’s throat. We begged for our lives saying we didn't do anything wrong. They said that they would destroy our cameras. We refused to give them our cameras. Two reporters in our group gave their memory cards.”

The cards were then smashed by the monks, claimed the report.

There have been no journalists killed in the riots yet, according to CPJ research.

Related articles:
  1. Myanmar’s draft media bill suspended
  2. Buddhist-Muslim riot breaks out in Meiktila
Last Updated ( Thursday, 28 March 2013 17:32 )  

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