UNESCO to celebrate World Press Freedom Day in Lao PDR and Myanmar
Bangkok, 30 April 2012: On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day on 3 May 2012, UNESCO Bangkok emphasizes the freedom of expression and the right to information in Asia and the Pacific.
“Freedom of expression is a fundamental right stated by UNESCO and a right which all people in the world should treasure,” said Susanne Ornager, Adviser for Communication and Information Programme in Asia, UNESCO Bangkok.
“When you have freedom of expression, you have a dialogue with all members of society. Without freedom of expression you exclude some part of society from voicing their concerns. And if you are not allowed to express your views, then you starve intellectually,” she said.
Every year on 3 May, World Press Freedom Day serves as an occasion to remind people to respect the fundamental principles of freedom of expression; to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession. Media freedom faces significant pressures across the world. Last year, UNESCO condemned the killing of 62 journalists who died in performing or in direct relation to their work. The World Press Freedom Day was jointly established in 1991 by UNESCO and the United Nations Department of Public Information.
“Journalists can be involved in decision making by making the decisions visible to civil society. And it’s extremely important that journalists report what is happening in society. Also the right to free speech and press freedom are deeply interconnected with the right to access information, so it is a priority to bridge the digital divide both between and within countries,” said Ms Ornager.
This year, UNESCO Bangkok is jointly organizing World Press Freedom Day events in Lao PDR and in Myanmar on 3 May 2012, focusing on ‘New Voices: Media Freedom Helping to Transform Societies’.
The event in Lao PDR, held in Vientiane, will consist of a panel discussion under the title of “The Media Landscape in Lao PDR”, where participants will discuss topics, such as media law, current media practice, access to information for media and the public, and opportunities related to media development. It is organized jointly by the United Nations Communications Group and UNESCO Bangkok in close collaboration with the Lao Journalist Association.
In Yangon, the Ministry of Information of Myanmar and UNESCO Bangkok are organizing a ceremony of ‘World Press Freedom Day 2012: Challenges to Media in a New Environment’ with opening remarks by Union Minister for Information and for Culture H.E. U Kyaw Hsan.