The Myanmar military is threatening to take legal action against media organizations that report “unverified” stories about security issues and armed conflicts, The Myanmar Times reported on Tuesday.
The newspaper quoted an announcement from Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of Myanmar’s armed forces, as saying that news about the military “should be published only after being verified by the ministers for Security and Border Affairs and General Staff colonels of military commands.”
The announcement cited what it claimed were “false reports” about clashes between Palaung rebels and the military in northern Shan State on December 24, days after the military announced a four-month pause in fighting in the north.
It also noted reports that the Shan State Army of the Shan State Progress Party, which has not signed the government’s “Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement” (NCA), was attacked by a joint force of the Myanmar Army and the Shan State Army of the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS), which has signed the NCA.
According to another media report, which the military also claimed was false, a combined force of the Myanmar Army and the Pa-O National Liberation Organization, a tiny outfit that has signed the NCA, attacked the RCSS in southern Shan State.
The military said those reports came from “unreliable sources,” not from the government, and “could harm the peace process.”
The Myanmar Press Council, which mediates conflicts between the authorities and the media, has urged the military to provide contact details of spokesmen who can handle questions from journalists.
The Myanmar Times said its “attempts to contact the spokesperson of the military’s True News team regarding the announcement were unsuccessful.”