UN: Myanmar waging ‘campaign against journalists’

Reuters journalist Kyaw Soe Oo, center, is escorted by polices upon arrival at the court Monday, Sept. 3, 2018, in Yangon, Myanmar. (AP/Thein Zaw)
Updated 11 September 2018
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UN: Myanmar waging ‘campaign against journalists’

  • The rights office pointed to the “particularly outrageous” and high-profile example of the conviction of Reuters journalists Kyaw Soe Oo and Wa Lone
  • Around 700,000 of the stateless Rohingya Muslim minority were driven into Bangladesh by a Myanmar army-led crackdown

GENEVA: Myanmar, facing international outrage over the jailing of Reuters journalists for their reporting on a massacre of Rohingya Muslims, is conducting a “political campaign” against independent journalism, the UN said Tuesday.
A fresh report from the UN rights office decried “the instrumentalization of the law and of the courts by the government and military in what constitutes a political campaign against independent journalism.”
It slammed the “failure of the judiciary to uphold the fair trial rights of those targeted.”
The rights office pointed to the “particularly outrageous” and high-profile example of the conviction of Reuters journalists Kyaw Soe Oo and Wa Lone, also known as Thet Oo Maung.
Last week, a judge jailed the two — both Myanmar nationals — for seven years under a draconian state secrets act over their reporting of the Rohingya crisis.
Around 700,000 of the stateless Rohingya Muslim minority were driven into Bangladesh by a Myanmar army-led crackdown in August last year.
The UN report said there were many other examples of detentions and prosecutions of journalists and their sources, indicating “wider trends of suppression of freedom of expression.”
According to the report, laws on telecommunications, official secrets, unlawful association, electronic transactions, import-export and aircraft have been used against journalists in a number of cases.
It pointed to one case, where three journalists were arrested in June 2017 after covering a “drug burning” ceremony in connection with the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.
The event took place in area under the control of the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) in northern Shan state.
Even though the journalists were covering events unrelated to the armed conflict, they were charged under the so-called unlawful association act.
The report pointed out that the act is “routinely used to allege that any contact with an ethnic armed group is tantamount to a criminal offense.”
The report said that in Myanmar it has become “impossible for journalists to do their job without fear or favor.”
UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet warned in a statement that the situation was “hardly conducive to a democratic transition” in Myanmar.
She called on authorities in the country to “cease the legal and judicial harassment of journalists and to initiate a review of ill-defined laws that facilitate attacks on the legitimate exercise of freedom of expression.”


Spotify launches in the Middle East and North Africa

Updated 14 November 2018
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Spotify launches in the Middle East and North Africa

  • Services would now be available in 13 Arab markets including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt
  • Spotify also launched its ‘Arab hub’ collection of playlists of Arab music on Wednesday

DUBAI: Spotify, the world’s most popular paid music streaming service, officially launched in the Middle East and North Africa on Tuesday.
The company said services would now be available in 13 Arab markets, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Morocco but not Libya, Iraq, Syria, or Yemen.
Spotify has been unofficially available in the Middle East for several years via accounts usually registered in other markets such as Europe.
Claudius Boller, who previously worked in the region with Universal Music Group, is Spotify’s managing director for the Middle East and Africa.
Boller told Reuters Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Morocco were expected to drive regional growth, pointing to the Middle East’s youthful population and high smartphone penetration.
Spotify will charge per month for its premium service 19.99 riyals ($5.33) in Saudi Arabia, 19.99 dirhams ($5.44) in the UAE, 49.99 Egyptian pounds ($2.8) in Egypt, and $4.99 elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa. Its free service is also now available in the region.
Spotify also added the Palestinian territories on Tuesday. Its services have been available in Israel since March.
Spotify also launched its ‘Arab hub’ collection of playlists of Arab music on Wednesday.
The Swedish company, founded in 2008, listed on the New York Stock Exchange in April. Before the launch in the Middle East and North Africa, Spotify’s music streaming services were available in 65 markets, according to its website.