BURMA

Burmese Govt Abolishes Press Censorship

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Burmese journals on sale in Rangoon. (Photo: The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON—The Burmese government says it is ending the long-standing practice of media censorship.

The announcement is one of the most dramatic moves yet toward allowing freedom of expression in the long-repressed nation.

Officials from the government’s Press Scrutiny and Registration Department (PSRD) told reporters in the main city of Rangoon on Monday that they no longer have to submit their work to state censors before publication.

All reporters employed in local print media by were previously obligated to send their stories to censors who had the final say in whether or not they could be published.

President Thein Sein’s reformist government has already dramatically eased media censorship, allowing local media outlets to print articles that would have been unthinkable during the era of absolute military rule that finally ended last year.

The decision comes amid journalists planning protests in front of Rangoon’s City Hall next week to express dissatisfaction with the government’s failure to follow through on promises to introduce meaningful media reforms.

At a meeting on Thursday, the Committee for Press Freedom discussed the Ministry of Information’s continuing controls over the media and government legal action against two journals, The Voice Weekly and Snapshot News, and decided to stage a protest.

In January, the Thein Sein administration pledged to end censorship with the drafting of a new media law. However, tight control over press coverage returned after sectarian unrest hit Arakan (Rakhine) State in late May.

The PSRD ordered the suspension of Snapshot on June 11 for publishing a photo of a woman who was raped and murdered in Arakan State, igniting a wave of violence in the remote region of western Burma.

But under new rules released on the Information Ministry’s website on Monday, journalists will no longer have to submit their work to state censors before publication as they have for close to half-a-century.

However, reporters will still have to send their stories to the PSRD after publication so government monitors can determine whether their work violated any publishing laws, journalists said. It was not immediately clear to what degree that might result in self-censorship.


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10 Responses to Burmese Govt Abolishes Press Censorship

  1. Big Brother is Watching You.

  2. We the people see what is right and what is wrong. Also, we understand well what is acceptable and what is not. The government does not need to control what we can say or what we cannot. Ne Win and Than Shwe tried to rule with their iron fists and control everything. They tried to own even our lives. Did Burma a better country than others? The answer is, “Absolutely ‘NO’”. Burma was brought down to the bottom because people were not allowed to contribute to the country even though there were countless talented people in many ways.

    Freedom of Press must be free from the government. Freedom of Speech must be free from the government. But it must be regulated by our elected representatives, never by one-man rule like Kyaw Shan.

  3. A Burmese Freedom Fighter

    An end to censorship with the drafting of a new media law by current U Thein Sein’s Administration is a good start to move Burma forward to become more opened society.

    Freedom of speech has to be protected by Constitution even though it cannot be absolute. It is very important for the country development to permit criticism of the government and advocacy of unpopular ideas that people may find distasteful or against public policy.
    Inclusiveness is a key to have such a good regulation on press, to which people can hold up on it.

    A Burmese Freedom Fighter

  4. Irresponsible journals like ‘Spotlight’ do not deserve this freedom. Myat Khine should be given a ‘model’ sentence for inciting inter-communal hatred and violence.

    • Your mentality is rooted in dictatorship. You talk about sentencing some one. You cannot sentence someone without proper trial in the court of law in a democratic society, man. Stop thinking like Than Shwe.

  5. Freedom of Press must be free from all kinds of bondage including the government. Let them write freely. Let them speak freely. Let them publish freely. We the people must be given a chance to choose whatever we want to read and whatever we want to hear. The government must not impose to us what to read or what to listen. It is none of the government’s business. We know what to choose. But we the people need to have freedom of choice.

  6. I just have one statment to make -
    Burma with sanctions is worse off than without… NKorea should learn this, opening up with world is not a bad idea after all; relying on china is just a bad bet… soon the cookie will crumble…

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