Burmese activists launch radio program to promote federalism
In the face of government efforts to shut down internet access altogether, some pro-democracy activists in Myanmar have been turning to radio to reach the public, other activists and the military since the February 1 coup that struck brought the junta to power.
Federal FM Radio went live on April 1 at 90.2 MHz. Its targeted broadcast days are Thursdays and Sundays.
The unlicensed radio station aims to educate the public about events across the country while educating listeners about federalism – that is, having a national and state government, as opposed to a regime. authoritarian military.
A founding member of the show who asked not to be named for security reasons told VOA the show was a new way for people to listen to news updates around the country, without military propaganda .
“When the Internet is cut, federal radio will be the means of communication and communication between them,” he said.
The station will provide information to pro-democracy leaders on the ground, and leaders will be able to use the station to speak to the public, he added. It will be one of the “powerful weapons” against the military government, he said.
“One is to educate, to inform about federalism, in big cities like Yangon”, he declared. The first listeners will be in Yangon with plans to expand across the country.
Local and international news will initially be broadcast in Burmese with plans to be broadcast in other languages. Organizers say the show is a nonprofit community program made up of volunteers.
A report says the station will also broadcast messages intended to persuade the military to defect.
Myanmar’s Military Council said it would “take action” against the program, claiming it was not a licensed broadcaster, according to a state newspaper article. The junta has already stripped five independent media companies of their licenses.
The organizers recognize that there are obvious dangers.
“We have a high risk for our producers and technicians and our citizen journalists, so we try to work, as if in an evasive way,” he said.
The Committee representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), a council formed to represent the elected lawmakers of the ousted National League for Democracy (NLD) party, presented a Federal Charter of Democracy, an interim constitution to replace the country’s constitution. 2008 which maintains the army as the dominant force within the government.
While this move is widely seen as symbolic, the goal may be to woo the country’s armed ethnic militias to join forces with the pro-democracy movement.
Veteran activist Moe Thway recently told VOA that members of the public expected a nationwide civil war.
The broadcast of Federal FM Radio will be a form of objection to the coup, according to an announcer.
“The ultimate goal is federal democratic union for our new Myanmar,” the announcer said. “This federal FM radio is one of the strikes.”
Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, gained independence from Britain in 1948, but most of its modern history has been ruled by military rule.
In 2015, the National League for Democracy party, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, won the country’s first open democratic elections.
But in the general election last November, the military challenged the results and made unsubstantiated allegations of widespread fraud.
On February 1, the military, also known as Tatmadaw, overthrew the NLD government and detained de facto leader Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, who now face multiple charges.
Since the coup, widespread resistance to democracy has met with bullets, armored vehicles and airstrikes. Martial law has also been imposed in several areas.
Thousands of people have been arrested and more than 550 killed, according to the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners of Burma (AAPPB), an independent non-profit organization formed by political prisoners exiled from Myanmar.