In Response to the Danish Embassy
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Tuesday, August 04, 2020
Burma

In Response to the Danish Embassy


By THE IRRAWADDY Monday, October 11, 2010


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It has come to our attention that an email was sent by the Danish embassy to participants prior to The Irrawaddy donors' meeting held almost two weeks ago in Bangkok.

The letter was leaked to the Burmese regime's blog post (See link: http://padaukmyay.blogspot.com/2010/10/blog-post_1952.html) and some groups inside Burma.

The letter contained several factual errors.

Since then, we have received letters and enquiries from our readers and colleagues expressing concern, sympathy and solidarity with our predicament.

We have decided to respond publicly to the Danish embassy's letter. We sent a copy of this letter to our donors last week. This week, we decided to publish it on our website and our online blog.

We also will inform the highest ranking Danish officials in Copenhagen on this matter.

Our response in full:

It has come to our attention that an email was sent by the Danish Embassy to participants prior to The Irrawaddy donors' meeting held last week in Bangkok.

We wish to express our disappointment with this email communication—which we feel is entirely unprofessional, and the content and timing is both erroneous and inflammatory.

We are aware of the Danish Embassy's disappointment with Irrawaddy’s income generation efforts but are bemused that you are withdrawing support now that we have developed a Business Plan which aims for some success in this area. Whilst we may not have met your expectations for self-generated income within three years, we believe we have made significant progress in this area and aim to work on this in the future.

We do however consider that the main measure of success for Burmese exiled media is in fact the reach, quality and impact of our information—not the degree of our self-sufficiency. Indeed we do rely on donor support as we are not a self-funding business entity.

The reality of exiled media is that we aim to use scarce donor funds in an efficient way to produce professional, timely information and promote democratic change in Burma. We welcome the chance to be a self-funded independent media agency when we can return to Burma and we continue to work towards this goal.

We would like to clarify some misconceptions in the email from the Embassy:

  1. We have employed 62 staff in 2010 due to the increased workload and funding support to cover the elections in this vital year for Burma. In total, 20 people work in Burma, 7 people work as regional correspondents, and 35 work in our office in Chiang Mai.

  2. Travel by all Irrawaddy staff, including senior staff, is undertaken according to specific written travel policies and procedures.

  3. Please note that the print magazine is just one of 10 media products that we publish, including online, radio and multi-media aimed at reaching millions of people worldwide and in Burma.

  4. The insinuation that Irrawaddy mismanages donor funds is offensive and incorrect – we consistently provide comprehensive, transparent, financial reporting on staff travel and all of our organizational activities and expenses.

We would like to acknowledge the support from the Danish Government for The Irrawaddy over many years and note our extreme disappointment at the poor level of communication from the Embassy.

We have been very fortunate to work with many donors who value and understand the nature of exiled media and its important role.

Whenever news matters on Burma, we know that our readers, including donors, come to The Irrawaddy to look for independent analysis and critical reporting on Burma.

Regards,

Aung Zaw
Editor
The Irrawaddy

COMMENTS (22)
 
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Leona Wrote:
18/10/2010
Dear Irrawaddy and Irrawaddy readers,

Here is the another story with Danish Embassy in Bangkok. The Danish
Burma Committee just released the statement which explained what was
happened. You are not alone.

http://www.scribd.com/full/39462695?access_key=key-w5x7zsz1ynvko4lz99l

Leona

Myanmar Patriots Wrote:
15/10/2010
swl Wrote:
12/10/2010
1."I support the Irrawaddy 100% in this case against the Danish embassy's unprofessional behavior."

Please explain how it is unprofessional.

2."It is nothing but the act of back-stabbing. Providing funding from taxpayers' money doesn't automatically justify this cheap email. This act is not the representative of public accountability, but irresponsibility and abuse of power (and technology).

This is your interpretation.

3."Demanding the Irrawaddy to be self- sufficient is insane (if not stupid). No media org can be self-sufficient without commercial relations.

I agree.

4."This demand is the donors' neo-colonial plot to force the Irrawaddy to be either a (western & pro-junta asian) business dependent or a pathetic, grassroots charity-based org, or both."

A neo-colonial plot? Neo-colonials are pro traitor SuuKyi - and against the junta. How come they are pro-junta now?

Like all anti-junta people, your thinking is selective and your logic perverse.

Myanmar Patriots Wrote:
15/10/2010
Eric Johnston Wrote:

14/10/2010
"... why don't you study what happened in Congo, Rwanda,etc, where millions were slaughtered because of the absence of one central authority with state power."
In Ruanda it was the one central authority with state power that organised the mass killings. In Burma it is the same, although the scale is not yet so great."


The Rwandan Genocide was the 1994 mass murder of an estimated 800,000 people. Over the course of approximately 100 days from the assassination of Juvénal Habyarimana on April 6 through mid-July, at least 800,000 people were killed, according to a Human Rights Watch estimate.[1] Other estimates of the death toll have ranged between 500,000 and 1,000,000,[2] or as much as 20% of the country's total population.

Peter Ole Kvint Wrote:
15/10/2010
The danish ambassadors are apolitical. They are a part of the administration. The Danish minister is liberal and wants to concentrate Danish foreign aid in Africa for reasons of efficiency.

The Irrawaddy is very inefficient. Chiang Mai is too far from Burma. Denmark and EU countries have 0% trade with Burma and 0.1% with Thailand. The ambassadors are a relic from an era without telephones.

Eric Johnston Wrote:
14/10/2010
"... why don't you study what happened in Congo, Rwanda,etc, where millions were slaughtered because of the absence of one central authority with state power."

In Ruanda it was the one central authority with state power that organised the mass killings. In Burma it is the same, although the scale is not yet so great.

Andrew Aung Khaing Wrote:
13/10/2010
Can you also please publish a list of donors who are pro so-called Rohingyas?

Eric Johnston Wrote:
13/10/2010
No one in his right mind can deny that The Irrawaddy is making a major contribution to educating both Burmese and foreigners about the situation in Burma, especially in relation to human rights.

If a funder is cognizant of the good work done but nonetheless believes there is a degree of financial mismanagement, the more appropriate response would be to state the basis for this belief, allowing the recipient to respond,and, if appropriate, to take corrective measures.

An option open to a funder is partially to withhold funding, pending changes.

Of course many funders, as a matter of policy, only donate for a limited period irrespective of need, which is regrettable. But if such were the case here, the Danish Embassy seems to have acted in a rather irrational manner.

Myanmar Patriots Wrote:
13/10/2010
Peter Ole Kvint Wrote:
"It is widely known that the Danish ambassador is against the democracy movement in Burma.
He supports the military regime. The cause is unknown."

We did it. We educated the diplomatic community. It is the military that saved Burma from sliding into chaos and anarchy and collapse of the state; why don't you study what happened in Congo, Rwanda,etc, where millions were slaughtered because of the absence of one central authority with state power.

We will keep on educating the world about the fraud perpetrated by the traitor woman Suu Kyi.
We are tru Myanmar patriots, loyal to Schwebomin II; nobody can push us around. You have your monarch in Denamrk, who you revere. Why can't the Burmese people have a king?

Naing Maung Wrote:
13/10/2010
Dear Irrawaddy,

I can see your transparency due to the fact that you disclosed this matter on your website. It seems to me that the letter of Danish embassy was politically motivated. Like some other EU countries, Denmark might be more interested in working with the bloody generals in Naypyidaw. That would be a main reason why they tried to find an excuse to cut their funding to you. We can easily see the fact that what those EU countries said is totally different from what they are doing. Please disclose this as it is your duty as media.

Keep up the good work.

kyaw win Wrote:
12/10/2010
I do absolutely agreed with Free Man. We can always learn from our mistake. but in the clarification, on No.3 it said "3. Please note that the print magazine is just one of 10 media products that we publish, including online, radio and multi-media aimed at reaching millions of people worldwide and in Burma'... I just learnt that The Irrawaddy has Radio. I have been following Burmese exile media for 2 decades but this is the first time to know irrawaddy has radio program. Keep up all the good works. Thanks. P.s where can I listen to Irrawaddy radio? anyone know?

[Irrawaddy's "Friday Talk" internet radio show can accessed through the Burmese language section of the Irrawaddy website]

swl Wrote:
12/10/2010
I support the Irrawaddy 100% in this case against the Danish embassy's unprofessional behavior. It is nothing but the act of back-stabbing. Providing funding from taxpayers' money doesn't automatically justify this cheap email. This act is not the representative of public accountability, but irresponsibility and abuse of power (and technology).

Demanding the Irrawaddy to be self- sufficient is insane (if not stupid). No media org can be self-sufficient without commercial relations. This demand is the donors' neo-colonial plot to force the Irrawaddy to be either a (western & pro-junta asian) business dependent or a pathetic, grassroots charity-based org, or both.

"Taxpayers' money": beautiful words. But it's not simply the "Danish" money. Much of it came from looting the wealth from poor countries together with other rich countries via unfair business relations. If self-sufficiency is the sexy word for the Danish govt, then it should stop sucking blood from poor countries and be self-sufficient.

nyi Wrote:
12/10/2010
Principally, the fund is allocated from Danish taxpayer money, helping for democracy movement in Burma. If the Danish government understands that the Irrawaddy misused the budget or failed an audit, it is fair enough that they publicize the information in both countries.

There are many countries, NGOs and Individuals who have donated millions of dollars to Burmese political organisations, media and Burmese NGOs outside and inside Burma. Most of funds have disappeared into the hands of high ranking staff or gone on top secret mission that we were usually informed about...

Free Man Wrote:
12/10/2010
Dear Irrawaddy,

Just take this as an experience on a long journey.

I don't really know whether you have some shortcomings like the former Irrawaddy employee has pointed out. If you do, address them by imposing just and strict rules and regulations.

Keep up the good work!

Towards freedom,
FM


Peter Ole Kvint Wrote:
12/10/2010
It is widely known that the Danish ambassador is against the democracy movement in Burma.

He supports the military regime. The cause is unknown. As a diplomat he may not do business. And apart from illegal drugs, Denmark and Burma have almost no trade. Except for a few tons of whole teak trunks. The mystery is that it is forbidden to export whole teak logs from Burma, because the wood is worth more when it is sawn into planks. Has anybody a explanation?

Ko Aung Wrote:
12/10/2010
The Irrawaddy online magazine is the one credible, reliable and dignified magazine in our movement in the cause of freedom and democracy in Burma. So I absolutely support my comrade Aung Zaw's response to the Danish embassy email.
Ko Aung
United Kingdom

maung moe nyo Wrote:
12/10/2010
Dear Ko Aung Zaw and wonderful team of Irrawaddy,

The Online Irrawaddy has been my daily news resource since the very beginning. It quickly became one of the most reliable resources outside of Burma. In fact. The Irrawaddy stands for its truthfulness and impartialty. With economic downturn, The Irrawaddy is no exception. But it not only stands for 60 million Burmese people but also contributes toward a tremendous extent of change to repressive regime. Continuous international support is vital in making the changes in today's Burma. If the main purpose is to accelerate the democratization process in the countries like Burma, Denmark and other donor countries need to help in all possible ways.

james o'brien Wrote:
12/10/2010
You need to get a qualified human rights lawyer, maybe a US-based one such as Jared Genser of Freedom Now, who is also Daw Suu's lawyer - lawyer for the present Chinese Nobel Peace Laureate and was lawyer for Kyaw Zaw Lwin and James Mawdsley.

This is compromising Irrawaddy's freedom of expression and the access to knowledge of all Burmese including exiles.

The path of complete transparency you are taking is a good one.

I agree, as a democracy advocate publication/s, you cannot work on completely commercial lines, and you need to pay for the risks your correspondents routinely take, they should even have accident and life insurance --

Please consider that this is just ill considered backlash to Irrawaddy's success, unworthy of an embassy of a free nation.

aung myin hlyin, a hpyet win thee.

You might want to do your own undercover investigation as to who set them up.

Donors may set up their own oversight committee, that is their right, but they should not cut off.

Best

James O'Brien

Former Irrawaddy Wrote:
11/10/2010
If someone criticizes The Irrawaddy, or indeed any exile media outlet or group, that doesn't make them automatically pro-junta. Isn't the definition of democracy supposed to be an environment in which people can air their views freely so that debate can be conducted with thought, fact and reason?

As a former Irrawaddy employee, I agree that the Irrawaddy mostly does quality work, spreading information on Burma which would not usually get a chance for release in the public domain. However, the claim that The Irrawaddy uses donor funds efficiently is laughable - I remember well how a vehicle supplied by the Danish government for news gathering trips in Thailand was almost exclusively used for shopping trips by high-ranking Irrawaddy staff. Often, as a result, work trips were denied.

If The Irrawaddy is truly democratic as an organisation it will publish (and not censor) this message.

Robert Johson Wrote:
11/10/2010
Shame on you Danish Government....

As The Irrawaddy has correctly pointed out, the success of exiled media is not how much income they can generate, it is how many people they can reach who otherwise cannot receive independent free news.

Watch MRTV for a whole day, or read the New Light of Myanmar for a week, then decide what is more important to you. Free press or self generated income?

The Burmese people and Irrawaddy supporters world over will not forget your cruel and unprofessional email.

Will you start funding state media in Burma? Maybe you are the funders for Myanmar International?

I sincerely hope that the Danish government feels compelled to write a public apology to the editors of The Irrawaddy.

If I was in Bangkok I would organise a protest outside their embassy every day until they do.....



Thaimythbuster Wrote:
11/10/2010
Denmark has a "Brown" government which is comparable with that of Italy in the late 1930's. Don't worry too much about what these people say. Lots of European countries who value human rights are uneasy with governments like those in Denmark of the Netherlands.

EKA Wrote:
11/10/2010
Being a Dane and after reading Mr. Bjarkes letter I must admit that this is not one of Denmarks finer moments.

If the Embassy and subsequently the Danish Government thinks that information about Burma is important they have chosen the wrong road in cutting support to the Irrawaddy solely on some high morale grounds rather than on a evaluation of the news values.

Stating the amount of sold printed copies as a contradiction to the total budget is senseless as most of us would see the publications online. So Mr. Bjarke how many hit´s does the Irrawaddy has on the internet every month?

Maybe it should be seen in the broader aspect as it seems like Denmark has changed their attitude to the support of the Border area, starting by trashing the Danish Burma Committee work earlier this year and later following up with the foreign ministers stating that the up coming election was properly the best option for Burma now.

timothy Wrote:
11/10/2010
Dear Ko Aung Zaw,
This must be the good news for despotic Than Shwe. I am sure you did manage media work for the liberation of Burma. Do not forget the back stabbing from the Junta`s guys. General Ne Win has sent his agents to Thailand to cause divisions and disagreements successfully among the People Party of U Nu and the derailment of the invasion of Southern Burma in 1970s. The Junta will use every dirty trick to discredit your work. The easiest target for them is to point at the donor funds management. In this time of economic depression and spending cuts, your work might be difficult. I fully support the democracy efforts by Irrawaddy Media.

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