Local lawmaker and media reject government’s claim no
restriction on information access 1

Journalists are not restricted to access information in Arakan State’s conflicted areas but journalists are limited when attempting to travel to “hotspots” because of safety risks, said Major General Aung Thu, deputy minister for Home Affairs.
 
To convey true information to the international community and local people, information about the fighting in the region has been published in the state-owned newspaper, radio and TV and released at the press conference, the deputy minister said.
 
U Maung Ohn, Arakan State MP for Maungdaw Township, however, said that media does not have freedom to access information on the ground.
 
“They said that media has freedom to access news. But, they do not have freedom to go anywhere they want. They have been restricted to go to conflict affected areas to collect news. It is a kind of news blackout,” U Maung Ohn said.
 
The Internet cut-off in the conflict affected areas in Arakan State and neighboring Paletwa Township in Chin State has been going on for two months now and it’s impacted the ebb and flow of information, said Wunna Khwar Nyo, an Arakan State based reporter.
 
“Delays with transmitting and receiving news items in some areas is due to the lack of the Internet access. So, disinformation is spread, whether intentionally or by accident. This raises concern among people who rely on news and other information for their daily lives,” he said.
 
Maj-Gen Aung Thu claimed that the regional government could not help journalists to go to conflict affected areas because it is risky for them, but the regional government assists with news getting to towns and villages that are safe areas.
 
He added that the Committee for Publishing True News from the regional government always publishes accurate information, hosts press conference and provide security police for local and foreign correspondents to receive news on the ground in the regions the government can guarantee their safety.
 
The Committee of the Arakan State government is publishing news about the trip of the chief minister of Arakan State and it should be posted with other important news items in timely fashion, reporter Wunna Khwar Nyo said.
 
 “Police vehicles were struck by explosive devices yesterday. But, the information about the incident was not publicized by the cabinet. Furthermore, police could not be reached when we phoned them. In fact, the regional government should have released such information quickly and accurately. The cabinet’s committee for Publishing True News just published stories about a donation ceremony and an award giving ceremony for a football match,” the reporter said.
 
As many as 225 local journalists and 209 foreign journalists have been sent to Maungdaw region 32 times to collect news during emergencies since 2016, the government announced.