(Reuters) – Myanmar’s military government complained on Monday of biased coverage by foreign media, which it said was misreporting events in the country and being swayed by distorted information from “terrorists” determined to create instability.
In a rare statement, the State Administrative Council (SAC), as the junta is known, said it was a friend to the media and international community, but those were misrepresenting its efforts to ensure peace and protect its citizens.
“What we find troubling is the clear and persistent bias of certain foreign media towards terrorist groups. But these media are doing so without fully ascertaining the facts,” its information ministry said.
“The terrorists appear to have swayed sections of the foreign media who report without checking, and repeat misinformation as truth.”
Myanmar has been in turmoil since a coup a year ago, with at least 1,500 civilians killed by security forces, according to activists cited by the United Nations, which the junta has also accused of bias.
The military has been battling militias allied with a parallel National Unity Government (NUG), which last year called for a nationwide revolt and has been outlawed by the junta.
State media coverage of the unrest has been rare, but the military has denied committing atrocities.
The SAC on Monday said 4,338 “terrorists” had been arrested overall, but nearly 49,000 people prosecuted for joining anti-coup protests had been released.
It did not mention military casualties but said 95 civil servants and 20 monks had been killed, while 525 roads and bridges, 27 hospitals, 504 schools and educational facilities had been destroyed, during 9,437 attacks.
The SAC’s statement made no mention of a peace process it has committed to with its Southeast Asian neighbours, but said it would hold an election by August next year.
It urged media to recognise “the return to normalcy in all major towns and cities”.
Nay Phone Latt, a senior member of the ruling party ousted by the military and a representative of the NUG, defended the integrity of the press and said armed resistance was justified.
“The people are in a defensive war with SAC members who arrest, torture and kill civilians and burn down peoples’ houses,” Nay Phone Latt told Reuters.
(Reporting by Reuters Staff; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor)