Myanmar: Information on the democracy publications Khit-Pyain (New Era) and Htaw-Mae-Par, which expose the human rights abuses of the Burmese government (2000)
|Publisher||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada|
|Publication Date||12 December 2001|
|Citation / Document Symbol||BUR38033.E|
|Cite as||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Myanmar: Information on the democracy publications Khit-Pyain (New Era) and Htaw-Mae-Par, which expose the human rights abuses of the Burmese government (2000), 12 December 2001, BUR38033.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3df4be1634.html [accessed 17 January 2018]|
|Disclaimer||This 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.|
No mention of a publication by the name of Khit-Pyain could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. There are, however, several reports of a newspaper by the name of Khit Pyaing, or the New Era Journal.
The following information was provided during a 10 December 2001 telephone interview with the US representative of the Washington DC-based Burma Media Association (BMA), which describes itself as an "independent organization established by overseas Burmese journalists, reporters and writers who practice and advocate freedom of expression in Burma" (BMA Website 10 Dec. 2001).
The New Era Journal (NEJ) is a monthly newspaper published in Bangkok. It was founded by U Tin Maung Win, a former political prisoner and democracy activist. Since Win's death in 1999 the NEJ has been run by his wife and daughter. Banned in Burma, the NEJ has a circulation of approximately 6,000. The copies are taken to the border and carried over for distribution among the various ethnic communities. There is an automatic seven-year sentence for those caught reading the NEJ.
The BMA representative stated that the NEJ is not affiliated with any group or organization. It receives substantial funding from the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and from the Soros Open Society Institute.
According to the BMA representative, the NEJ is more than a pro-democracy newspaper that criticizes the government. It actively seeks input from various ethnic groups, and attempts to promote democratic debate among its readers and contributors. The articles often focus on the problems faced by, and within, the Burmese democracy movement.
A Bangkok Post article that draws on information provided by the late founder of the New Era Journal describes the publication, founded by U Tin Maung Win, a "student activist during the 1962 uprisings in Burma," as a monthly newspaper containing "stories and editorials written by Burmese democracy activists" (20 Sept. 1998). The staff comprises mainly veteran Burmese journalists and student activists who have fled to Thailand, who gather news reports from a variety of political contacts and media sources (ibid.). The journal, which is published along the Thai-Burmese border, contains articles written in both Burmese and English, and is distributed by members of the All Burma Students' Democratic Front (ABSDF) and "other pro-democracy groups," who get the paper into Burma "through merchants and illegal aliens" (ibid.). Anyone in Burma caught with a copy of the NEJ automatically receives a seven-year jail term (ibid.). Approximately 85 per cent of the 15,000 copies is distributed in Burma, with the rest delivered to Europe, Australia and the United States, and sections of the NEJ are often posted on Websites of groups that support the ABSDF (ibid.). Most of the funding for the New Era Journal is provided by the Soros Open Society Institute (ibid.).
The current editor-in-chief of the New Era Journal is U Thaung (NED 27 May 1999), who is exiled in the United States (IPI 2000).
Amnesty International reported on arrests in Myanmar in connection with the possession and distribution of journals and newspapers such as the New Era Journal (18 Apr. 2001; ibid. 24 May 2000). A report by the ABSDF carried on BurmaNet stated that several people were detained in 1993 under the Publishing and Printing Act for possessing copies of the NEJ (26 Nov. 1997).
No mention of a publication called Htaw-Mae-Par could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
All Burma Students' Democratic Front (ABSDF). 26 November 1997. "Political Prisoners Transferred from Insein Prison."
Amnesty International (AI). 18 April 2001. ASA 16/006/2001. "Myanmar: Prisoners of Political Repression."
_____. 24 May 2000. ASA 16/004/2000. "Unsung Heroines: The Women of Myanmar."
Bangkok Post. 20 September 1998. Joshua Kurlantzick. "You Can't Put Down a Good Newspaper."
Burma Media Association (BMA). 10 December 2001. Telephone interview with US representative.
International Press Institute (IPI). 2000. IPI Report. Vol. 6, No. 2. Michael Kudlak. "U Thaung."
National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Washington, DC. 27 May 1999. Democracy News.
Additional Sources Consulted
Europa World Yearbook 2000.
Freedom in the World 2000-2001.
US Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 1999-2000.
Internet sites including:
Human Rights Watch
Karen National Union
Keesing's Record of World Events
Reporters Sans Frontières
University of Minnesota Human Rights Library