The regional media group Dawei Watch is Fondation Hirondelle’s fourth media partner in Myanmar. They broadcast « Doh Athan », our weekly podcast on Human Rights produced with Frontier Myanmar. Ye Htut, a young journalist working for Dawei Watch explains the challenges of being a journalist in Myanmar today to Oliver Slow, Fondation Hirondelle’s Editorial Advisor in Myanmar.
A native of Dawei, Ye Htut, 27, stumbled into a career in journalism 5 years ago and is now one of only about a dozen private-sector journalists covering Tanintharyi Region, a huge, sprawling region rife with corruption and environmental abuses. The media group he works for, Dawei Watch, is one of a handful of groups monitoring developments in the region, amid the constant threat of lawsuits and physical attacks (they are currently facing several of the former).
"There is no safety (for journalists), explains Ye Htut. If someone doesn't like what we write, we can be sued, and we don't have the money for safety equipment. We can't even afford life jackets for our staff if they go to sea for a story." We recently conducted a training with Ye Htut and his colleagues from Dawei Watch, as well as other journalists in Tanintharyi Region - where they are based. We are currently working with them on a podcast story about the environmental impacts of mining activities in the region.
"There are so many difficulties about being a journalist here. People don't want to talk to us, and if they do they only want us to write good things. If we write bad things, they are not happy. But there are so many bad things happening." Ye Htut works closely with Ko Zaw, another fearless reporter and editor. I mentioned to them both that they were doing important, terrific work. Ye Htut responded: "We're just two fat guys."
Oliver Slow, Fondation Hirondelle’s Editorial advisor in Myanmar