Burma eases severe media censorship
Despite the media concessions, some remain skeptical about the dawning press freedom, and still prefer to be quoted anonymously when talking to foreign media.
One concerned Rangoon-based editor, who works with one of the best-selling local journals, said restrictions on the press are now much more relaxed compared to life under the Than Shwe government. However, the government needs to do more to improve the press freedom, she added.
Another freelance journalist who works for foreign media organizations said, “It looks like the whole process is to please the West in order to lift sanctions. I don't know how genuine they are now.”
At an interview in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, Maung Wun Tha, an editor of Pyithu Khit, a Rangoon-based journal, said that they are still not free to report on sensitive issues such as ethnic rebels.
Roger said several Burmese journalists in Rangoon told him that they still worry about the media freedom in the country as long as Information Minister Kyaw Hsan—who is known to be a hardliner on press restriction—remains a key player in Ministry of Home Affairs.
“I think it [Burma] is in the process of changing. But, there still a long way to go,” said Roger.
In 2008, under Than Shwe rule, about 10 journalists including sports writer Zaw Thet Htwe and prominent blogger Nay Phone Latt were arrested without proper cause. Zaw Thet Htwe was arrested due to distributing relief supplies to populations affected by Cyclone Nargis. Nay Phone Latt was arrested due to obtaining an anti-government cartoon, which depicted Than Shwe, in his email. However, nine Burmese journalists including Zaw Thet Htwe and Nay Phone Latt were freed as part of the government amnesty in January, 2012.
The recently freed blogger, Nay Phone Latt said, “I will keep writing even if it means I get arrested again.
Then we will know whether or not we have real freedom.”