A man gives the three-finger salute to thousands of demonstrators in downtown Yangon on February 7. (Frontier)

Editorial: One year on, the facts remain the same

One year since seizing power, the military junta remains an illegitimate entity that rules via brutality and fear, offering no solution to the ongoing crisis.

Today we mark one year since the military coup d’etat that plunged Myanmar into crisis. 

The past 12 months have brought tragedy, anger, hardship, loss and trauma. At Frontier, we share the grief and pain of so many across Myanmar, and remember the thousands who have lost their lives.

We express our admiration and respect for those who have sacrificed so much for democracy, human rights, equality and justice – values that we also share. 

We also hold out hope for a better future, once the present crisis has been overcome. 

The military coup has prompted us to question some of our values as journalists. Since Frontier launched in 2015, we’ve always sought to maintain neutrality and independence, and to report fairly. 

But neutrality and fairness does not mean automatically giving equal weight to competing narratives, or competing allegations, or competing claims.

We cannot ignore facts – and the following are some of the most important facts, of which the world should take note. 

The military regime is an illegitimate entity – one that seized power illegally by violating the constitution it wrote, citing spurious electoral fraud allegations that it has never substantiated. 

It has only been able to hold on to power through a combination of brutality, coercion and fear. The majority of Myanmar people remain steadfastly opposed to military rule, and demand the release of all those unjustly imprisoned and the restoration of democracy under a government that truly represents the people.

The military’s five-step roadmap is a sham designed to entrench military rule and deprive the people of their right to choose their preferred government. It is a dead end rather than a solution to the present crisis.

These are the facts, as we see it. 

This does not mean though that we should be cheerleaders for the resistance. Our efforts to report accurately may not always paint the resistance in the most favourable light, or make us popular. But independent media should be just that: independent. 

It is not the job of independent journalists to be part of the revolution. We should cover the revolution so that our readers can have an accurate understanding of what is happening in this country we all love. Part of covering the revolution includes holding the various parts of the resistance accountable, even if we largely sympathise with their objectives.

Our loyalty is to our readers, and particularly the members that sustain us. We believe they value truth, fairness and accuracy, and we would be doing them a disservice if we obscured or ignored the reality on the ground. 

This may be hard to accept in what to many is an existential struggle; we understand and sympathise with that sentiment. But even in these extraordinary times, for the sake of Myanmar’s future, the role of the media should not be sacrificed on the altar of expediency. If journalists stop reporting accurately, we risk losing an important mechanism through which mistakes can be corrected, people in positions of power and influence can be held to account and people can make informed decisions about their lives.

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