“Reporting on pro-democracy protests is very dangerous”
When I was in school, I never thought of becoming a journalist because I didn’t use social media or read news at the time. I am from Karenni state and the power of journalism there is very limited. But one day, a media outlet called Kantarawaddy Times moved their office near my house and I observed their team working.
In 2019, I graduated from high school and I got invited by a teacher who came to organize a media workshop. I learnt a lot and became very interested in journalism. The teacher advised me to enter a media studies institute, which I graduated from the following year. I am now working as a journalist for Kantarawadyy Times, which remains to this day the only media with daily coverage in our state.
My first news article was written during the workshop and it was about corn farmers whose crops were destroyed by insects. The most important feature I have written is about a young man who wanted to be a soccer player before the coup d’Etat and threw this plan away to become involved in the armed revolution.
When the military coup happened, I reported about the pro-democracy protests in our area and it got more and more dangerous. On the day the soldiers started to invade Karenni state and suppress the demonstrations with tear gas and live bullets, I was there. It got me really scared and fearing for my life. I thought that I could lay low but some of my mentors organized my passage to Thailand for safety concerns.
Since the coup, it is difficult for us to work on the field and as we live in exile, we have to write news mainly based on phone conversations with sources or we visit refugee camps to interview people who fled the violence in our home state. We check the veracity of content which is shared on social media channels. We still publish articles every day that we write on our smartphones as our newsroom only owns one laptop and one camera for all the reporters.
Whatever our working and living conditions, we have to keep producing news because photography and journalism are a recollection of what happened in the past. Our community needs this record and people can learn from that.