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Twenty-five IFEX members express grave concern over media situation

(Mizzima/IFEX) - The following is a joint statement by 25 IFEX members:

IFEX Joint Statement on Burma

We, members of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), meeting in Montevideo, Uruguay, come together to express grave concern over the increasingly perilous media situation in Burma that is exacerbating a looming and ongoing humanitarian crisis.

In line with a vicious crackdown against citizens, religious leaders and pro-democracy activists, the military junta in Burma has arrested Burmese journalists, restricted telecommunications facilities, shut down the Internet and denied foreign media representatives entry into the country.

A Japanese photojournalist, Kenji Nagai from the Tokyo-based APF news, was among 200 civilians reported slain in recent protests in the country.

These developments only serve to further worsen a media environment that already consistently ranks among the world's worst.

We note that Win Ko Ko Lat of Rangoon-based journal "Weekly Eleven", radio producer Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi and photojournalist Win Saing are still being held by state authorities. Journalists who have been covering the street protests, which started in August because of a sudden nine-fold increase in fuel prices, have experienced censorship, violence and detention by government authorities.

In reaction to the sweeping street demonstrations across the country, the junta imposed a curfew period of 10:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. and has prohibited public gatherings of more than five individuals. Lines of communication such as the Internet and mobile phones have also been very restricted, even after the junta recently opened access to some parts of Rangoon during the curfew period.

Prior to these recent events, the Burmese regime was already known to be unaccommodating and oppressive to the practice of free expression.

Nobel Peace Prize Awardee Aung San Suu Kyi has been detained by the junta since 1990, when her political party, the National League for Democracy, won a landslide victory in the election.

We members of IFEX call on Burmese authorities, and all countries worldwide, to push for a more open environment and dialogue to restore democracy and reconciliation in Burma. We urge the reopening of all lines of communication and media within and into Burma, as a sign of commitment and respect to universal principles of human rights and freedom of expression.

Organizations that signed the statement:

Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), Indonesia
Arab Network for Human Rights Information (HRinfo), Egypt
ARTICLE 19, United Kingdom
Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), Bahrain
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), Canada
Center for Human Rights and Democratic Studies (CEHURDES), Nepal
Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), Philippines
Center for Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESP), Liberia
Centro de Periodismo y Etica Publica (CEPET), Mexico
Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ), Nepal
Free Media Movement (FMM), Sri Lanka
Freedom House, United States of America
Fundación para la Libertad de Prensa (FLIP), Colombia
Globe International, Mongolia
Index on Censorship, United Kingdom
Instituto Prensa Y Sociedad (IPYS), Venezuela
International Press Institute (IPI), Austria
Institute for Reporter Freedom and Safety (IRFS), Azerbaijan
IPS Communication Foundation (BIANET), Turkey
Mizzima News, India
Norwegian PEN, Norway
Sindicato de Periodistas del Paraguay (SPP), Paraguay
Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA), Thailand
West African Journalists Association (WAJA), Mali
World Press Freedom Committee (WPFC), United States of America

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