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Ethnic media conference to bring diverse groups together

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Juri Chai – An ethnic media conference organized by Burma News International (BNI) will bring media groups and Union ministers together under one roof. The conference from March 3 to 5 in Shan state capital Taunggyi is the second such event organized by BNI, which serves as an umbrella group for 12 news groups from Burma, including Independent Mon News Agency (IMNA).

A screen shot of Burma News International’s (BNI) website. (Photo: IMNA)
A screen shot of Burma News International’s (BNI) website. (Photo: IMNA)
BNI staff U Nay Myo Aung explained that every year BNI chooses a new location for the conference.

“BNI chooses to hold the conference in each ethnic area each year. It was decided at the last conference in Moulmein to hold the conference in Taunggyi capital as it is convenient for transportation,” U Nay Myo Aung said.

Last year’s the first conference took place at the Strand Hotel in Moulmein, the capital of Mon state.

The event is intended to assist in the development the country’s ethnic media, U Nay Myo Aung said. With press restrictions lifted its necessary for discussions on creating strong independent ethnic media network, promoting freedom of expression and ensuring women can help lead in this important process, he said.

Over the course of the three day event, Union ministers from both upper and lower houses, the Shan State prime minister, other governmental staff and politicians will rub shoulders with international and domestic media experts and journalists, scholars and civil society groups.

BNI staff and IMNA editor Nai Kasauh Mon pointed out that now the country has essentially a free press much work needs to be done, but support from the international community is crucial. Ethnic media groups still need financial assistance to guarantee their operations inside the country will succeed. Publications in ethnic native languages don’t generate enough income yet to sustain themselves, Nai Kasauh Mon said.

“There are two categories of media improvement. First one is that we can see that media groups inside the country can publish pretty much free. They can provide criticism on politics, the 2008 Constitution and how the army is involved in politics. And, they can freely write about the land confiscation case. But if we look at our ethnic media groups, we can see that there are still many challenges and limitations. And, there are no radio broadcasting in ethnic languages for ethnic media to air yet, although radio broadcasting is actually necessary in ethnic areas.”

But some ground has been gained. Over the last two years, several of BNI’s member news groups registered with the government. Now journals are being published in Chin, Mon, Karen, Karenni and Shan states.

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