News

Burma Pledges to Loosen Notorious Censorship Laws

A Buddhist monk reads a journal at a roadside shop in Rangoon, Burma, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012.
A Buddhist monk reads a journal at a roadside shop in Rangoon, Burma, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012.
Danielle Bernstein

Burma has some of the strictest censorship laws in the world, but the new government has started drafting a new media law that is anticipated to make major changeson the media environment under reform in Rangoon.

Newspapers bearing the once banned image of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi are fairly common nowadays in Rangoon.  But the 50-year-old censorship laws, a relic of the socialist era, are still in effect.


At a recent workshop on media freedom, Ye Htut from the ministry of information justified the existence of censorship, but also pledged its end by the close of this year.

“We want to maintain the stability and law and order in our country in the previous government before 1962 there’s a press freedom in our country. And instead of informing the general public media themselves created a crisis," he said.

Exile media groups also attended. For some, it was their first visit home in 23 years. Toe Zaw Latt is the bureau chief of the Democratic Voice of Burma.

"Yesterday the information minister was here. He openly said they are willing to change and take reform, which was very encouraging. He said the state's role of media development is to facilitate, not to control, which is quite an amazing statement from a responsible party," he said.

Though editors and journalists already anticipate the end of censorship, the newfound freedom is accompanied by uncertainty in a competitive market for publishers like Ross Dunkley of the English language weekly The Myanmar Times.

"It's going to be a bloodbath.  I mean, that's the absolute truth is that you get some [daily newspapers] up and running, then I figure you're going to see in the first year of the dailies at least 100 publications die," he said.

Some topics are still sensitive, such as the formation of labor unions. Last week, a story in the Myanmar Times about the first meeting of what will be Burma's new independent journalist’s union was cut by censors.

The only daily newspapers, such as The New Light of Myanmar, are published by the state. But new liberal laws could mean independent daily news for the first time since 1962.

The union is still drafting its constitution, and it is still unclear what will replace the ministry of information as an independent regulatory body. Associated Press correspondent Aye Aye Win is one of the co-founders of the new union.

“It’s been one year that new government has taken power so I think it’s time that all professional organizations should form their own leagues to help support them protect them and promote their rights," he said.

The end of censorship and increased competition promise big changes for Burma's news industry, and for the country's news consumers.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs