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Manipur journalists’ union urges govt to grant safe passage to scribes who fled Myanmar

Bijoy Kakchingtabam, president of AMWJU said in a statement that the three journalists are reportedly taking shelter in the Moreh border town of Manipur after fleeing their country.

By: Express News Service | Imphal |
April 16, 2021 9:36:45 pm
An Indian paramilitary soldier stands guard near the bridge on Tiau river along the India-Myanmar border in Mizoram. (AP)

The All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union (AMWJU) has appealed to the state government to grant safe passage to three journalists associated with Mizzima News Myanmar to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in New Delhi.

Bijoy Kakchingtabam, president of AMWJU said in a statement that the three journalists are reportedly taking shelter in the Moreh border town of Manipur after fleeing their country.

“As a journalists’ body, we are especially alarmed by the fate of the media and media persons in that country,” said Kakchingtabam.

He urged the state government to give them the respect as journalists are accorded anywhere in the world and grant them a safe passage to New Delhi where they can seek official refugee status under the international convention on refugees.

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The Union also appealed to the Manipur government to make necessary concessions to allow the journalists to come to Imphal and urged that all facilities be extended to them so that they can proceed towards Delhi.

Kakchingtabam said Mizzima is an independent media organisation of Myanmar locals and the journalists now taking shelter in Moreh are living in fear that they may be pushed back to their homeland where their lives would be in grave danger. They are fearful of harassment by the Indian security establishment, he added.

The AMWJU president said Mizzima is an India-friendly media outlet and in 2018, it signed an agreement with Prasar Bharati for content sharing. It was the first time the national broadcaster had signed an agreement with a private media house. In June 2020, the Mizzima promoted a musical evening involving guests from all parts of the Northeast, led by Guru Rewben Mashangva, and the Manipur government had given its full backing to them, the AMWJU president added.

After the February coup in Myanmar, the Junta took away the licence of Mizzima, arrested several of its journalists, raided its office in Yangon and even froze their bank account, AMWJU stated. However, several Mizzima journalists are still carrying out their salient duties despite the obvious danger to their lives, and, of the ones who fled the country, three have taken shelter in Manipur.

However, a source from Moreh claimed that there is no official record of any Myanmar nationals taking shelter in the border town.

The last Indian town bordering Myanmar, Moreh lies 110 km from Imphal. Manipur shares a nearly 400-km border with the neighbouring country, most of which is porous.

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