Myanmar hosts world press meet amidst boycott threat

27 March 2015
Myanmar hosts world press meet amidst boycott threat
65th IPI World Congress 2015 opens at the Chatrium Hotel in Yangon on March 27, 2015. Photo: Malik Ayub Sumbal/Twitter

The International Press Institute is holding its 65th IPI World Congress 2015 at the Chatrium Hotel in Yangon from March 27 to 29, the first time Myanmar has hosted the international press event.
More than 200 journalists from more than 60 countries, including Myanmar journalists, are due to attend.  
Subjects to be discussed include media laws, promoting press freedom, effective strategies to address hate speech, ethical coverage, and the need for investigative journalism in a free society.
Notable speakers include Swami Agnivesh, chairman of the World Council of Arya Samaj, Mr Jim Clancy, former anchor with CNN International, USA, Myanmar’s Information Minister U Ye Htut, Mizzima Editor-in-Chief and Managing Director U Soe Myint, Myit Makha Media Group executive Daw May Thingyan Hein, Lower House MP U Phyo Min Thein and U Thiha Saw, member of the Myanmar Press Council [Interim].
U Thiha Saw said: “I will talk about how to address hate speech. The benefit is that [Myanmar journalists] will learn from the experiences of international journalists in addressing conflicts. They [Myanmar journalists] can ask for advice from international journalists. [And likewise], the international journalists will have the opportunity to learn about the situation of Myanmar journalists."
However, the conference is not without controversy. The Myanmar Journalist Network has called for a boycott of the meeting, as Myanmar’s Information Minister U Ye Htut will attend.
The network has called for a boycott in protest against the police crackdown in on the student protest in Letpadan during which some reporters and students were arrested.
MJN has urged the media not to attend the IPI World Congress, not to cover the news related to the meeting, and not to cover news related to the Myanmar government while the congress is being held.
In response to MJN’s decision to urge journalists to boycott the congress, Information Minister U Ye Htut wrote recently on his Facebook page: “IPI is an international organization trying to promote the press freedom. An international conference organized by that group is held every year in a country. For this year, the conference will be held in Myanmar and discuss the issues related to the press freedom in Myanmar the press freedom in the world.”
The Free Media Pioneer award will be presented during the congress. Mizzima Media, which won the award in 2007, is taking part in the congress as host partner.
On March 29, IPI will provide media training related to covering elections to Myanmar journalists.
In 2014, the IPI World Congress was held in Cape Town, South Africa.