Last Updated: Friday, 19 December 2014, 13:25 GMT

Burmese government allows dailies to resume publishing

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date 28 December 2012
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Burmese government allows dailies to resume publishing, 28 December 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/50ed34ab28.html [accessed 21 December 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

New York, December 28, 2012 – Burmese authorities' decision to allow private daily newspapers to resume publication is a welcome change to a policy that has stifled press freedom in the country for decades, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Customers buy weekly news journals at a roadside shop in Yangon, Myanmar, Friday. Authorities said they will allow private daily newspapers starting in April for the first time since 1964. (AP/Khin Maung Win)Customers buy weekly news journals at a roadside shop in Yangon, Myanmar, Friday. Authorities said they will allow private daily newspapers starting in April for the first time since 1964. (AP/Khin Maung Win)

The Information Ministry announced today that any Burmese citizen wanting to start a daily newspaper could submit an application starting in February, and that the new publications, printed in any language, would begin appearing on newsstands on April 1, according to news reports. The move is part of a series of new press reforms President Thein Sein has introduced since taking office in March 2011.

"If fully enacted and with no restrictions, the new policy would effectively reverse many of the anti-media policies that have lingered since President Thein Sein's civilian government came to power last year," said Bob Dietz, CPJ's Asia program coordinator.

All of the private dailies in Burma were forced to shut down in 1964 when Ne Win, the former dictator, nationalized private businesses, according to news reports. Since then, authorities have allowed the publication of state-run dailies, but have permitted only about 180 weeklies to publish, CPJ research shows. The weeklies, which must submit their content to the government-run censorship body for review before publication, focus mainly on non-controversial stories, like sports or entertainment.

Earlier this year, CPJ noted that although the government abolished pre-publication censorship, allowed coverage of previously banned topics, and freed at least 12 imprisoned journalists, the country still did not have a free press. The Burmese government pledged in August to dismantle its Press Scrutiny and Registration Division, but the censorship body remained in place. Authorities also continue to deny visas to most international journalists.

Exile-run media, like the news outlet Irrawaddy, have often supplied critical coverage of issues the government has tried to suppress. In September 2011, CPJ issued a special report, "In Burma, transition neglects press freedom," which documented the great risks faced by critical exile-run media.

Copyright notice: © Committee to Protect Journalists. All rights reserved. Articles may be reproduced only with permission from CPJ.

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