A journalist who worked at the English-language newspaper Myanmar Times was recently dismissed for writing an article about rapes committed by government security forces. The reporter, former special investigations editor Fiona MacGregor, says that her being sacked was a result of political pressure placed on the newspaper. Please sign this petition to demand that Fiona Macgregor is reinstated at the Myanmar Times!
Ms. MacGregor had been reporting on Rakhine State, an area on the western coast of Myanmar, when she wrote a piece about the rapes. Despite the legitimacy of her reporting, she has been silenced and punished for her commitment to the truth.
Much of northern Rakhine State is under military lockdown following deadly attacks on border police, and this lockdown has brought horror upon local people. According to MacGregor, residents are "reporting extrajudicial killings, torture, large-scale evictions, and the burning and looting of property." An estimated 10,000 Rohingya people – a persecuted ethnic minority – have been displaced.
And now, reports of rape abound, including rape against teenaged girls. MacGregor's article, "Dozens of rapes reported in northern Rakhine state", reported that approximately 30 women had been raped by security forces in just a single village on October 19. The claims were supported by human rights organizations and interviews with victims. Reuters also covered the issue. But military personnel have impunity for such crimes due to clauses in the 2008 constitution, so the only recourse against such actions is public awareness and public pressure.
The backlash against Ms. MacGregor's article was intense. Leadership at the Myanmar Times informed her that her reporting supposedly "breached company policy by damaging national reconciliation and the paper’s reputation." Now, some government officials are even calling for the police to investigate MacGregor.
Honest journalism protects citizens by exposing abuse and holding power to account. In an era where 'misinformation' is muddying our news channels, and where sensationalism trumps facts, it's vital that we stand up for journalists who have the courage and integrity to provide the truth.
Please sign this petition to support Fiona McGregor and to demand that she be reinstated at the Myanmar Times. If enough people sign, it will show how much the public value the truth, and it will also demonstrate to the Myanmar Times that the public will defend it if it chooses to stand up to government pressure.
* Photo Credit: Evangelos Petratos, Rakhine, Myanmar/Burma, European Commission DG ECHO, June 2014, CC 2.0