The Tatmadaw (government defence services) has issued a statement calling on news media to only report on battle news in fighting with ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) after verifying the clashes with the Tatmadaw.
The statement issued by Tatmadaw says, “It needs to report true news regarding with Tatmadaw only after verifying them with Security and Border Affairs ministers concerned and Staff Officer Colonels in respective regional commands.”
Tatmadaw True News Information Committee issued this statement on December 27 saying RFA, The Voice, Messenger News Journal, The Ladies, Mizzima, Irrawaddy, Khithit Media, VOA, The Fifth Wave News and The Ladies reported the battle news by citing and quoting only the statements issued by EAOs without verifying the news with the Tatmadaw.
Media people have responded by saying they had difficulty in verifying battle news with the Tatmadaw as the given phone numbers could not be contacted or they did not answer, and moreover the Tatmadaw issued their statements on the battle news too late.
Reporter Kaung Htet San from Mawgun News said, “We confirm the news by different sources in reporting the battle news but it was so easy to contact and confirm the news with EAOs. Frankly speaking, they answered our calls. They did not pass the buck by referring it to this person or that person instead. You can conduct a survey on the difficulties faced in contacting the Tatmadaw by interviewing reporters who are reporting the battle news.”
Regarding this statement issued by Tatmadaw, Mizzima said that they contacted a mobile number of Tatmadaw Public Relations and Psychological Warfare Deputy Director Brig. Gen. Zaw Min Tun on December 28 five times from 1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. but the calls were not answered though they were connected.
A local reporter staying in ethnic areas and reporting battle news said, “The main problem is weakness of the Tatmadaw in issuing news releases. We could have never contacted these prescribed numbers easily for verifying our news reports.”
Press Council Joint Secretary (1) Myint Kyaw said in response to a query made by Mizzima that Tatmadaw sent this statement to the Press Council and they would issue a news release soon in regarding this matter.
“We discussed in our press council that media needs to mention in their news reports if they cannot contact and confirm the news with Tatmadaw by detailing how they contacted and what response they got. And also we will urge Tatmadaw it is important to answer the calls and confirm the news in such situations,” Myint Kyaw said.
In their warning given to media in this statement, the Tatmadaw said that they found mistakes in news reported by citing and quoting EAOs’ statements and such news reports could cause misunderstanding about the Tatmadaw and undermine the peace efforts they were carrying out.