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Burma Loosens Grip on Media Censorship

  • Daniel Schearf

Just months ago it would have been unthinkable to have Burma's democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi featured in local media, though she recently was featured by various publications as censorship authorities loosen up somewhat, in Rangoon, Burma, December 20

Just months ago it would have been unthinkable to have Burma's democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi featured in local media, though she recently was featured by various publications as censorship authorities loosen up somewhat, in Rangoon, Burma, December 20

Burma’s notorious censors have relaxed their tight grip on the media this year, although journalists are still by no means able to freely report.

Just months ago it would have been unthinkable to have Burma’s democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi featured in local media.

But Wai Phyo says that censorship authorities, who scrutinize all their publications, have loosened up.

"We could report on Aung San Suu Kyi’s attending the opening ceremony of the new library," Wai Phyo noted. "On the same day, she attended the birthday celebration for a political prisoner [Min Ko Naing - a political prisoner and 88 generation student leader who is still in jail], but we were not allowed to report about it. Both stories are about Aung San Suu Kyi. The censorship board is not absolutely tightening, but not relaxing all either. They are adjusting depending on the contents."

He said they can evade censors altogether by posting articles directly onto their Facebook page, which now has more than 20,000 followers, as long as they do not criticize authorities.

“For urgent news we just post it online without getting permission from the censorship board. As long as the news is not attacking them [the government], we can post articles on Facebook freely,” said Wai Phyo.

Despite the slight opening and hope for further reforms, Eleven Media Group journalists did not want their faces shown for fear of any possible repercussions.

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