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The Myanmar Times | Eleven Media Website chopped
The Eleven Media Group's English-language website was hijacked on December 7 by a group called Kachin Cyber Army. A small text field with the hint "KCA hacked" welcomed the site visitor before a display with the Kachin Independence Army logo in blue and blue and other texts arose.
This is the first admonition for you, for the press, it is the first one. Don't make bullshit and dumb press raids to deceive our nation. We are announcing today to all Burma's press and dumb reporters that from now on we will be attacking all the nonsensical dumb Burma's press. Eleven Group' announces that the group regrets that the audience was not able to see the website www.news-eleven.com for a while.
It also announces that Kachin Cyber Army hijackers are using IP-adresses in China. They said their IT engineers are working to fix the site and investigate whether a Kachin group carried out the onslaught.
Eleven Media's many craters
THAN Htut Aung has been named many things, but he is not a coward: no one could ever blame him for retiring from a war. An extravagant creator and CEO of the Eleven Media Group, he has created an Empire known for its pompous styles and assaults on corrupt practices.
Although Eleven has made foes of some of the country's most mighty men, he has never turned his back on confrontative coverage. On Eleven's pages, former government officials, economic and political figures, other reporters and the army were criticized, often in screed written by Than Htut Aung himself.
From time to time, his sometimes edited serial "I Will Tell the Real Truth" was both a moderate critique of Myanmar's policy transformation and a production of inexorable insults against the newspaper's critic. In all his open struggles, Eleven has eagerly covered himself and offers a comprehensive defense of his behavior while at the same time duplicating his goals.
But it is only now, after the establishment of Myanmar's first truly civil administration in more than half a century and widespread recognition for the country's democracy reform, that the continued existence of Eleven Media is threatening its people. Than Htut Aung and his editor-in-chief are facing a long sentence, so perhaps the actual astonishment is that they were not arrested earlier.
First Eleven is characterised by the persistent commitment of its journalists to follow the games and keep the press to deliver the latest results to Myanmar's football-mad audience. Since the creation of its quarterly news magazine in 2005, the business has been growing at an exponential rate, with the launching of an English-language news website in 2012 and a day-to-day issue in Myanmar the following year, just after the Myanmar administration discontinued the decades-long pre-release of the Myanmar movie.
Eleven's success can be seen on entering the headquarters - an elaborately and costly seven-storey edifice on South Racecourse Road, populated by more than a hundred young and enthusiastic reporters. The interior features a TV studios, a Than Htut Aung bedroom and a gallery with wallpapers that underline their position in the area.
Eleven Media exceeded the boundaries of what was then the most stringent censor regime in the entire planet in its early years. Soon after he won the Golden Pen of Freedom Award in 2013, Than Htut Aung, the global association of newspapers and news publishers, praised First Eleven for using his sport coverage to create submissive policy statements for his people.
Than Htut Aung became more and more critical of Myanmar's leaders after the quasi-civilian U Thein Sein administration was appointed in 2011. That same year, on 11 November, at the same time as the eleventh anniversaries of his press empire, he hosted a major open meeting to arrest the regime for the continuing detention of prisoner politicians.
That same year - the last under the censure system of the army - Eleven Media also led a lively anti-China backed Myitsone Dam, a former militia signing venture that quickly became a flash light for popular dissatisfaction and protests against the country's leader. Than Htut Aung turned out to be on the right side of the story in both questions: Thein Sein's administration started a massive nationwide pardon of police detainees the following year and suspended work on the Myitsoneject.
During much of the last period of office, Eleven Media had a fierce rapport with Information Secretary and Speaker of the Administration U Ye Htut. It was ironic that the secretary had become known in Weekly Eleven as a frequent contributor to the Weekly Eleven magazine, but after his nomination he criticized Eleven for what he thought was the group's misreporting of Thein Sein's administration.
Soon after his nomination in 2014, Eleven charged the Ministry of Information with a heavily exorbitant cost of a printer and gambled that the buy was corrupt. Although the group had made other allegations without a reply for offences against authorities, the Ministry of Information reacted with a complaint against Eleven Medias.
Instead of withdrawing his title, Eleven expanded his criticisms and accused the Department of selling off properties to Skynet at a discounted price, a privately-held conglomerate that controlled much of Myanmar's TV-broadcaster. At the end of last year, after a news briefing at Yangon's Mahabandoola Garden, where he said to an eleven-person journalist that he and his fellow journalists were "cocks," Hla Swe was beaten with another suit, this case for pubic dirty.
However, the most fierce struggle between Eleven and his critic is reserved for a representative of the press. Sithu Aung Myint, a columnist and a member of Frontier's staff and several other papers, has been facing 10 threats of litigation since 2013 for claiming that his work has defiled the group' s image (the complaints that ultimately came to trial were dismissed).
In March, Frontier had a meeting with U Nay Htun Naing, editor-in-chief of Eleven, in the group' s office. When asked why his organization had taken steps against another member of the press, Nay Htun Naing said that Eleven did not want to be compelled to wage a constant word campaign on his side.
In order to study his own reports on his countless battles, the Eleven publishers have seen themselves as energetic advocates of the general interest in the face of a deep-rooted enmity towards a free theater. This is nowhere clearer than in the out of breath depiction of an assault on Than Htut Aung last June.
Two men went to Than Htut Aung's vehicle in the evenings on U Chit Maung Road, not far from the group' s office, and fired slings and metallic bullets at him before they escaped in a hail. Both men were immediately detained, but Elf's report states that at least three other men were present and assisting in the assault - at least one of whom, as they claimed, is a member of the Military Affairs Security, the secret service of the Myanmar armed forces.
A further assault came the following morning, both on Eleven Media and on the call of Than Htut Aung himself. Eleven's CEO and 16 of its associates were sued by the Ministry of Information, claiming that the reporting of the print machine complaint was a disregard of the judge.
Simultaneously, a series of Facebook pages, which mainly published pro-military publicity, began to publish photographs allegedly showing Than Htut Aung accompanied by a female in a KTV salon - in Myanmar, a typical institution campaigning for illegal sexplaint. These reports indicate that the assault on Than Htut Aung was not organised by the regime, as he had claimed, but the outcome of a commercial battle resulting from the auspices of the eleven KTV chieftain and a romanticized connection between the mysterious lady and her friend.
At the end of March, when the National League for Democracy came into power, many reporters were hoping that further limitations on the mass communication industry would be removed and the militant relations between the print and the former regime would be a thing of the past. Than Htut Aung and the group's experienced editor-in-chief, Ko Wai Phyo, are now only eight month later and face a three-year prison sentence.
In a leading article published early this past year to mark the Yangon parliamentary elections jubilee, Than Htut Aung charged the head of the Yangon region, U Phyo Min Thein, with receiving a $100,000 Patek Phillipe timepiece from a tycoon, who himself was recently granted a pardon for drug-trafficking crimes in return for commissions to build the city's corruption-stricken southwestern new town.
Given the accusation under 66(d) of the Telecommunications Act - which has been increasingly used against statements of a satire and politics on the subject of public service announcements since the inauguration of the administration - it is likely that none of the men will be released from prison before the end of the process. Myanmar's Press Council has asked the Prime minister to dismiss the appeal so that he can settle the case, but the procedure was continued at the moment of the letter.
There is still a long way to go before Eleven Media's last crime. Than Htut Aung and Wai Phyo's request for a deposit was rejected during a Tarmwe Township Court hearings on 30 November.