Company Charges Journalists With Defamation

Waingmaw township court, Kachin State

Journalists said they were only reporting the facts about the mining company's dealings with a banana plantation in Kachin State.

A mining company that detained and assaulted two journalists for publishing an unfavourable story about the company's dealings with a Chinese banana tissue culture plantation is suing the reporters and their executive editor for defamation.

The counter charges by Tha Khin Sit Mining, Import and Export Company came less than a month after the journalists opened a case against it for assaulting and detaining them.

During a court appearance on March 18, reporters Mon Mon Pan and Lapat Hkawng Lum and Myitkyina News Journal executive editor were charged with defamation act 500.

"I have credible evidence and information that's why I reported this news...I wrote it based on information provided by villagers,” said Mon Mon Pan.

In January, representatives from Tha Khin Sit Mining, Import and Export Company came to the village to start the banana plantation, she said. Villagers voiced their opposition to the plantation during a public meeting organised by the company on February 18.

According to Myanmar's media law, chapter 11, if a journalist is in violation of ethics (article 9), the alleged victim should file a grievance with the Myanmar Media Council.

"Media law clearly states if someone isn't satisfied with a report, believing it provides incorrect information, they should report this first to the media council. If the company is aware of this and files a complaint to the media council it will be more effective,” said Daw Thuzar, of the Myanmar Media Council.

"We strive to report the news with the highest standards for the benefit of the people,” said Brang Mai, CEO of Myitkyina News Journal. There is solid evidence and eye witnesses supporting our report, he said.

Myitkyina News Journal, one of the first media groups serving the ethnic Kachin population based in Myanmar, was started by Brang Mai in 2014.

The next trial date is set for March 25.