Commentary on ” Reuters case exposes tensions over the role of journalists”

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It is heartbreaking to see that a child has been deprived of father’s presence and love because of the government’s detainment of her father for merely doing his job.

The question raised here is on making public of the State’s secret. But what is State’s secret, especially in the light of Rakhine crisis?

In a nutshell, the State’s secret from the government point of view is anything that would shed bad lights on its human rights records resulting from the area clearance, offensive operations of the government’s security forces in Rakhine. Any document, photo or record are all considered State’s secret. And thus, anyone owning or distributing them are considered the State’s enemy.

But from the media and freedom of speech point of view and more importantly, from the check-and-balance of the the three institutions: legislative, executive and judicial, coupled with the media’s freedom of press and expression, adhering to the control of State’s secret is somewhat tricky and not within the domain of a free press, in a democratic country.

In short, it is duty-bound for government servants that has to keep the secret and not the journalists. Thus, the journalists can’t be blamed for obtaining such confidential documents, as newsmen would normally do everything to reach the depth of the case they are investigating. If we look at the “Watergate Scandal”, we would learn a democratically elected government cannot do anything against the journalists according to the given law, except to make use of illegally obstructing them of their reporting to the public. As all know, in the end President Nixon has to resign for his misdeeds of eavesdropping on the Democratic Party in the US.

Finally, the arrested journalists haven’t done anything wrong, but the Burma’s home ministry and the security apparatus are misusing their powers to label the journalists as traitors to the national cause. Reporting the truth and shedding lights on the blackout situation of the Rakhine crisis are noble undertakings and should be treated as such and release them without string attached. That is, if the country really wants to be democratic.

Link to the story: Reuters case exposes tensions over the role of journalists

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