Chin Journalists to Strengthen Media Cooperation
28 April 2012: Chin journalists and leaders of local media groups held a four-day media workshop in Thantlang from 23-26 April 2012, drawing a conclusion to strengthen cooperation in efforts to raise Chin-related issues across Chin State.
A total of 22 participants from Hakha, Falam, Matupi, Thantlang, Kalaymyo, Mandalay and Rangoon exchanged ideas and experiences during the event of its first kind, organized with aims to enhance awareness raising and advocacy of community-based issues through Chin media, both printed and online.
One of the Chin journalists told Chinland Guardian: “We believe this is the first time Chin journalists of different media groups from different areas came together to discuss how to build network and improve media contributions on Chin-related issues.”
“This would be a test to see how the new government of Chin State stands on freedom of expression as we all agree to raise critical issues facing the Chin people through both local and national media,” added the editor from Hakha town.
The workshop decided to start an online discussion forum to enable Chin journalists and reporters to engage more with each other as an initial step towards building a long-term network.
“We had presentations on how to identify issues challenging the Chin public and raise awareness through the available media. We have been in the darkness of media for so long. It is an eye-opening workshop and this will really help us in our works,” said a local participant.
For decades under Burma’s successive regimes, no newspapers or journals have been published in Chin dialects, apart from magazines and newsletters printed in a limited circulation mostly by local religious groups.
Since 1990, teaching of Chin language as a separate subject in primary schools has been banned, according to the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO).
CHRO said the restrictions on the use and learning of Chin language have meant that a higher percentage of Chin youths are not able to read or write in their own language.
“Chin children are losing part of their culture and traditions that go hand-in-hand with the use and learning of their language,” added CHRO, working to protect and promote the rights of the Chin people since 1995.
Since Ne Win’s military coup d’état in 1962, media in Burma has undergone strict censorship and regulation although the constitution provides for freedom of speech and the press.
Burma was ranked 174th out of 178 in the Press Freedom Index in 2010 by Reporters Without Borders.
Reporting by Thawng Zel Thang