Aung San Suu Kyi named ‘Biggest Backslider in Press Freedom’

Image via CPJ.
Image via CPJ.

Myanmar’s state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi has been named the “Biggest Backslider in Press Freedom” by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). The title is one of several given out by the organization in response to US president Donald Trump’s announcement on Jan. 3 of plans to give awards to the “most dishonest and corrupt media.”

“Amid the public discourse of fake news and President Trump’s announcement via Twitter about his planned ‘fake news’ awards ceremony, CPJ is recognizing world leaders who have gone out of their way to attack the press and undermine the norms that support freedom of the media,” the group’s announcement said.

Myanmar’s de facto leader earned the “Biggest Backslider” title for failing to live up to high hopes for media freedom after her party took power in 2016.

“Most of the legal structure that has long restricted the press remains in place, and journalists continue to be imprisoned. Security officials obstruct and harass journalists trying to cover what the UN has termed ‘a textbook example of ethnic cleansing’ by authorities in the country’s northern Rakhine State,” the New York-based group wrote about Suu Kyi.

The organization specifically called the state counsellor out for allowing for the arrest of Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who were arrested in December and charged for violating the Official Secrets Act for possessing “important security documents” related to military operations in Rakhine State.

The Reuters reporters were among 12 journalists who faced legal action last year. Five of the 12 cases were brought by the military, five by police, one by a government official, and one by a private citizen.

Among the other CPJ awardees were Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and President Trump, who were respectively named winner and runner-up of the “Most Thin-Skinned” title.

Chinese president Xi Jinping and Russian president Vladimir Putin were recognized for having the “Tightest Grip on Media.”

President Trump also received the award for “Overall Achievement in Undermining Global Press Freedom.” CPJ said the US president has emboldened repressive leaders by failing to raise the issue of press freedom with them, failing to enforce domestic press freedom guidelines, and consistently undermining news outlets.

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