Myanmar’s military regime officially ordered the closure of The Irrawaddy and revoked its publication license last week. Since the coup last year, there has been a series of lawsuits, raids, arrests and other moves targeting the popular independent media THE IRRAWADDY.
The Irrawaddy has been at the forefront of exposing all the misdoings of the Junta Government, including daily extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, air strikes on residential areas, and the torching of civilian properties. Millions of Myanmarese follow its reports and revere its content.
The Junta regime has taken several unprecedented actions against the news agency since the coup. The Junta Government has already banned the popular website of Irrawaddy in Myanmar.
In March last year, the military regime sued the news outlet under Article 505 (a) for “disregarding” the armed forces in reporting on the anti-regime protests that were occurring at the time. The police opened a case against The Irrawaddy as a whole rather than individual employees, making it the first news outlet to be sued by the regime after the coup.
On two occasions later that year, The Irrawaddy’s office in downtown Yangon was raided by security forces. No one was arrested during the raids, as The Irrawaddy ceased its operation inside Myanmar following the coup.
Several weeks before officially shutting the news agency down, the regime arrested its publisher, U Thaung Win, who remains in custody. A former photojournalist who once worked for The Irrawaddy, Zaw Zaw, was sentenced to three years in prison under incitement charges in August this year. One staff member was temporarily detained early this year, and the home of one of the news organization’s editors was recently raided.
Since taking power, the junta has moved aggressively to shut down media outlets. It has also detained more than 140 journalists, 60 of whom remain in prison and four of whom have died in custody.
One month after the coup, authorities abolished local outlets Mizzima, the Democratic Voice of Burma, 7 Days, Myanmar Now, and Khit Thit.
In total, the military regime has banned 14 news agencies, four publishing houses and two printing presses in the last 20 months since the coup.
They include the Myitkyina Journal, 74 Media, Tachileik News Agency, Delta News Agency, Zeya Times News Agency, Kamayut News Channel, Kantarawaddy Times, and Mon News Agency.