Shri Shivraj Patil
Minister of Home Affairs
Government of India
Fax: +91 11 2309 4221 (Office)
+91 11 2379 4833 (Residence)
+91 11 2301 7580 (Parliamentary House)
Dear Honourable Minister,
The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) Indonesia, an organization representing journalists in Indonesia, is deeply concerned by the Indian authorities’ sealing of the headquarters of Mizzima News, an independent news agency on Burma run by exiled Burmese journalists in New Delhi.
According to Mizzima News, at around 11:30 a.m. (local time) on 16 April 2007, two Delhi municipal officers and about 20 police officers came to the news agency and ordered it shut down. The authorities closed off Mizzima News’s library and sealed the rooms where computers, equipment and files are kept.
Mizzima News’s editors were told that the raid by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) was conducted in line with a wider campaign against “commercial activities” in what was supposed to be a residential area. Mizzima News, which is founded in August 1998 as an independent and non-profit news agency, has denied conducting any commercial work, noting that no other commercial shops or businesses near the Mizzima office were raided that day.
The raid was a surprise to Mizzima News’s editors as its operations have always been known to the Indian authorities.
Mizzima News produces independent news and commentary on Burma. It has been reporting consistently about the human rights situation in Burma, including violations against the media and journalists by the Burmese military junta. More broadly, it expressly supports the campaign to restore a federal democracy in Burma.
The shuttering of the Mizzima News headquarters is a serious blow not only to the organisation, but to the people of Burma themselves. Already denied their voice under a severely repressive military regime in Rangoon, the people of Burma are now further deprived of a courageous medium that helps to bring their plight to the world, on a daily basis. The outside world, for that matter, including a large community of Burmese exiled and scattered throughout all the continents, is denied access to independent and credible news, information and commentary on Burma.
AJI Indonesia therefore urges the Indian government to allow Mizzima News to resume work at its headquarters, in adherence to the spirit and letter of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) of the United Nations, to which India acceded in 1979.
Coord. Advocacy Division