Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Journalists decry Rakhine government discrimination

Rakhine-based journalists have asked the state government to give them equal opportunity to cover news in the region, the same as they give to national and foreign-based journalists.

The Rakhine journalists noted that like their national counterparts and foreign journalists, they should also be allowed to accompany state ministers on trips to gather news.

The regional journalists issued a statement after a meeting with representatives of the state government, civil societies and the news media in Sittwe on Saturday, calling for equal opportunity in news coverage.

“National and foreign journalists have been called into Rakhine State to gather news, but state-based journalist are not invited,” said Ko Aung, a Rakhine-based journalist.

“I feel like there’s some sort of discrimination going against regional journalists. We also get equal coverage rights, we’re requesting it,” he said.

During the meeting, the state government said that it had willingly accepted the media’s request for equal opportunity in news gathering.

“Concerning this request, I believe that things will be all right if the media and government meet and have a discussion again,” Ko Aung said. “The things that we’ve requested are things that the government can comply with so I just want to ask them to accept our request.”

U Min Aung, information official of the State Government and State Municipal Affairs Minister, said the government is an information department where journalists can get the news.

He added that journalists can also go directly to state offices that release the news.

“Media will have to follow the news sources. Although we don’t instruct departments separately to answer what media has asked, some State Department heads answer the media while some don’t,” U Min Aung said.

U Aung Min Oo, chief editor of Development Media Group, said that he hopes government could help the local media in getting the news, but added they cannot expect full assistance from the government in their journalistic duties.

“As there is discrimination in media coverage, we cannot include everything in our reports, the statements of all sides, such as the government, the Rakhine and the 'Bengalis', so the news comes out being biased,” U Aung Min Oo said.

Other journalists noted that the government had sent local and international media to Maungdaw area three times for news coverage but state-based journalists were not permitted to go to the area.