The MAP radio stands out as a unique project, broadcasting content tailored for and by migrants and refugees in their respective languages along the
Thai-Myanmar Border. Responding to the challenging context, the radio focuses on engaging with the community, addressing migration systems, and migrant rights, and providing updated information on the situation in Myanmar.
The shows are broadcast from Chiang Mai and Mae Sot radios. In the previous year, the Chiang Mai station, primarily broadcasting in Shan, aired 23 weekly programs, with 13 led by broadcasters from local community-based organizations and migrant volunteers.
Simultaneously, the Mae Sot radio station presented 25 regular programs and shared news from two additional outlets. The shows were also spearheaded by local communities, involving 11 local broadcasters and 9 migrant volunteers, including youth, who help deliver shows in Burmese, Thai, Arakan, and Rohingya languages.
“MAP radio is like a guidebook for us which is guiding us to know our rights, and also, we can ask help for information from the radio”. – MAP Radio listener.
A community-centred outlet
Recognising the power of radio as a tool, MAP gears up community DJs with training and support so that they can fully exploit the opportunities of broadcasting. Cooperation was also encouraged through an exchange of ideas with a Thai radio station.
The radio is cherished by the community not only for its inclusion of diverse languages but also for its practical content. Labour rights, safe migration, visa renewal process, updates on COVID-19 vaccination services, and air pollution from forest fires in northern Thailand, are a sample of the topics. It also promotes a hotline for victims of violence against women.
The relationship with the community and listeners is crucial for this radio station. To gather feedback, the radio developed listener panels, unveiling that listeners appreciate advice on registration processes, updates from Myanmar, and information about local organisations providing assistance.
Why radio is important for Thai-Myanmar border communities
Since the Myanmar military junta staged a coup on 1 February, 2021, the situation for migrants in Thailand has become increasingly difficult. The migrant population has surged as people from Myanmar seek safety and economic stability away from the violence caused by the military junta.
In 2023, immigration services, including processes to renew identity documents and visa permits, were hindered by closures, resulting in slow, uncertain, and expensive processes in the Myanmar embassy. Changes to Thai immigration policies made navigating the necessary documentation more difficult.
Amidst this uncertainty, migrants sought information to help them understand and navigate the system, seeking advice from others in the community. Many turn to MAP Radio, a trusted source of information for migrants on the border for decades.
The Myanmar military has taken control of or closed most news agencies in the country and arrested independent journalists. That is why the shows also provide news updates from Myanmar, a service highly appreciated by migrants who struggle to access accurate news coverage.
The MAP Foundation’s project is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).