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VOA Asia Weekly: Exiled Journalists Cover the News in Myanmar

VOA Asia Weekly: Exiled Journalists Cover the News in Myanmar
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Indonesian defense minister appears poised to become next president. Farmers in India protest against government. Myanmar's ruling junta enforces drafting of both men and women. Hanoi pagoda draws love-seeking visitors.

Myanmar’s media navigates risks to deliver news amid conflict.

Welcome to VOA Asia Weekly. I'm Chris Casquejo in Washington. That story is coming up, but first, making headlines:

Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto declared victory in Indonesia’s presidential election as unofficial tallies positioned him well ahead of his running opponents. More than 200 million people registered to vote in Indonesia. There was no declaration by electoral officials, and the two former provincial governors who also contested the election in the world’s third-largest democracy have not conceded defeat.

The Senate passed a $95.3 billion aid package early Tuesday for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan – with 22 Senate Republicans supporting the bill, joined by almost all Democrats. The House now awaits the bill. House Speaker Mike Johnson criticized the measure for lacking border security provisions but said he’s keeping his options open.

Indian farmers demanding guaranteed minimum price support for their crops blocked highways and railroads Thursday. They clashed with police, as officers fired tear gas as protestors marched toward New Delhi. The protest renews a movement from two years ago that succeeded in getting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to repeal contentious new agricultural laws.

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has been granted parole after serving six months in a one-year prison sentence. News reports from Thailand said the 74-year-old was on a list of 930 prisoners being granted early release because they are either ill or over age 70.

Myanmar's junta is enforcing a law requiring the military to summon all men aged 18 to 35 and women aged 18 to 27 to serve in the military for at least two years. Those who ignore the draft can be jailed for the same period.

Three years into Myanmar's military rule, the country's journalists are rebuilding newsrooms in exile and finding ways to keep sources safe, while accessing news about the conflict between the junta and the resistance movement. VOA News has the story, narrated by Arash Arabasadi.

On the third anniversary of Myanmar’s coup, the streets of the country’s largest city, Yangon, are quiet, save for a military presence. Citizens are encouraged to stay inside for a silent protest.

But in the country’s north, a resistance movement is fighting back.

The fighting has displaced millions of civilians, including journalists at Democratic Voice of Burma, or DVB.

But from newsrooms outside of Myanmar, they keep reporting.

Exile is not new for DVB, founded in 1992 in Norway under prior junta rule. The broadcaster moved to Myanmar during civilian rule, only to have to flee again in 2021.

But experience hasn't made the job easier.

“It's harder, in fact, because we had to rebuild everything.”

With access to independent news restricted in Myanmar, DVB and other media now working from exile play a vital role.

“I think the media become crucial, countering fake news and also countering propaganda, telling the truth about the situation on the ground.”

To get news on the conflict, DVB relies on a large network of citizen journalists on the ground, without whom, it says, it is nearly impossible to get verified information.

In Thai cities like Chiang Mai, some news outlets use exile as a shield. Frontier Myanmar’s team takes on stories that are harder to cover inside the country. But nothing is guaranteed.

“We have all the security protocols — online, offline, and personal security protocols that we follow.”

Mementos and photographs adorn Frontier’s walls, a reminder of its work’s importance.

And awards are also displayed at DVB. Small reminders of the lives — and loved ones — left behind.

“We try not to communicate with our family members inside Burma because that can be traced.”

From exile, these outlets remain a key source of independent news.

For VOA News in Thailand, Arash Arabasadi.

Visit for the most up-to-date stories.

I’m Chris Casquejo.

And finally, love is in the air, but not quite yet for everyone.

An ancient pagoda in central Hanoi received many young visitors on Wednesday who hoped a Valentine's Day offering would help them find a partner. Marriage and family are traditionally important in Vietnam, so many people are turning to Buddha for help.

Thanks for watching VOA Asia Weekly.