Fondation Hirondelle started its activities in Myanmar in 2016, to support a professional media sector that gives voice to the population, in a delicate and historic context of democratic transition. Fondation Hirondelle currently works with our media partner Frontier Myanmar to amplify underrepresented voices in the media, in particular those from areas affected by inter-communal or ethnic conflict.
In 2017, Fondation Hirondelle began a program on human rights with its partner Frontier Myanmar, supported by the Embassy of the Netherlands in Myanmar. Frontier Myanmar is an independent Myanmar news magazine with a website in English and Burmese languages. The project aims to address important gaps in content and access to information on human rights and related issues through hands-on training for journalists and ethnic media and the production of a weekly human rights audio podcast. This podcast, Doh Athan ("Our voice") broadcasted since October 2017, explores human rights issues through in-depth reporting and interviews with the population, leading human rights practitioners, scholars, activists, and government authorities with a diversity of voices and sources from around the country. It brings unheard and moderate voices and stories into the national dialogue, especially stories and perspectives from women and marginalized members of the community, to counter negative stereotypes.
To support the production and broadcasting of this program, we have developed a network of 6 ethnic and local partner media around the country. These partner media participate in journalistic trainings, receive production equipment, and participate in the weekly production and broadcasting of Doh Athan. This ensures stories and voices from around the country are heard from in this national podcast. Partner media further support getting the program out to listeners by broadcasting on their social media pages.
From 2016 to 2018, Fondation Hirondelle also worked with the Hluttaw, or the Myanmar Union Parliament to improve media coverage of legislative processes. Over this time, we carried out several cycles of participative workshops and coaching with parliamentary press staff, journalists covering parliament from private and public media, and members of parliament. Over 200 people have been trained on strengthening the capacity of media, the Parliament and MPs to provide important and trustworthy information on the legislative process, and to improve relations between Parliament and the media. Within the workshops, reports where produced on the subjects being debated in Parliament at the time, to contribute to an improved flow of information between Parliament, media, and the general public.
Fondation Hirondelle has also worked with non-state actors involved in the country’s peace process including representatives of 11 ethnic groups. From 2016-2017, workshops were organized, reuniting 36 participants from these organizations. These dealt with questions linked to public access to information on the peace process and the way to diversify the views in the coverage by national media.
- Support political solutions and legitimate political dialogue, including the flow of information and greater transparency.
- Contribute to greater media coverage that create a sense of balance among diverse ethnic groups and that provide more objective information in particular in areas affected by inter-communal or ethnic conflict.