10 Most Censored Countries - Burma
|Publisher||Committee to Protect Journalists|
|Publication Date||2 May 2012|
|Cite as||Committee to Protect Journalists, 10 Most Censored Countries - Burma, 2 May 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/502cb01928.html [accessed 25 May 2015]|
Leadership: President Thein Sein, a former general who assumed office in 2011 after a 2010 election that heavily favored military-backed candidates
How Censorship Works: Although Burma has transitioned from military to civilian government, released journalists among hundreds of political prisoners, and promised more reforms, its vast censorship structure remains in place. All privately run news publications in Burma are forced to publish weekly rather than daily due to stifling prepublication censorship requirements. The government's Press Scrutiny and Registration Division (PSRD) censors news that could reflect poorly on the military or the government it backs, and imposes a complete blackout on reporting of the armed conflict with ethnic Kachin rebels in the remote north. The government dominates radio and television with a steady stream of propaganda. Laws bar the ownership of a computer without a license and ban the dissemination or posting of unauthorized materials over the Internet. Prison sentences have been used to punish reporters working for exile-run media groups. Regulations imposed in 2011 banned the use of flash drives and voice-over-Internet-protocol (VoIP) communication in Internet cafés. Local reporters with international agencies are subject to constant police surveillance; others only publish under pseudonyms to prevent possible reprisals. Foreign reporters are regularly denied journalist visas unless the government aims to showcase a state-sponsored event. Those discovered reporting on tourism visas are expelled.
Lowlight: In February 2012, the PSRD banned a commentary written by journalist Ludu Sein Win about a media conference where Ministry of Information officials discussed a proposed new media law that would allow more press freedom – including an end to prepublication censorship. Sein Win wrote tongue-in-cheek that those who attended the conference were "helping to make the rope to hang themselves." The banned article was later published by the exile-run Irrawaddy.