Ethnic Media Outlets Hold Annual Conference in Myitkyina

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Ethnic media organizations from around Burma have gathered in the Kachin State capital Myitkyina to discuss the challenges of journalists working in a context of conflict and weak legal protections for media professionals and ordinary citizens.

The 7th Ethnic Media Conference, which was organized by Burma News International (BNI), began on Monday and is being held at the Majoi Hall in Myitkyina’s Manau Ground.

“The theme of this conference is ‘Ethnic Media for Justice’. We selected this theme because it reflects the political and social situation of the host ethnic state. We will discuss many issues related to this subject during the three-day conference,” BNI chairperson Nan Pawt Gay told NMG.

Among the topics that will be discussed by conference participants are the situation of indigenous people in Burma, working conditions for journalists based in Kachin State, the loss of local people’s rights, and how to seek justice for them.

“Regarding legal issues, we will prioritize seeking justice for both media people and local people, because conflicts are still ongoing in Kachin State,” Nan Pawt Gay said.

According to BNI, a number of journalists have been charged by the authorities simply for doing their jobs, even though their reporting was factually correct. Therefore, BNI will work to help journalists get information without fear.

“First, we will try to draft a policy for ethnic media. We will also try to build a network through this ethnic media conference. We want legal protection for all media people. We want to report and chase news without fear,” Nan Pawt Gay told NMG.

In his opening address on Monday, Kachin State’s chief minister, Dr. Khet Awng, spoke of the importance of the media in Burma.

“I think our country is completely different from other countries. There are many different ethnic armed organizations and many political parties in our country. We have yet to obtain peace. Our country is still very poor and full of problems. Therefore, the media as the fourth pillar is very important for us,” Dr. Khet Awng told his audience.

On the first day of the ethnic media conference, participants and panelists discussed the security of journalists, the sustainable development of the media, mega-projects and their impact on the environment, and ethnic media policy.
According to BNI, participants will also discuss the political situation in Kachin State, media freedom and democratic transition, conflicts and the peace process, possible trends of ethnic media, and ethnic media and justice.

Nearly 300 people, including members of BNI’s 14 associated media organizations, media people from across Burma, members of civil society organizations and local literature and culture associations, and internally displaced persons, are attending the conference.