Censorship in Burma - History - Political Reform

Political Reform

In November 2010, shortly after Aung San Suu Kyi's release from house arrest, 10 local publications were suspended for placing "too much importance" on her release in their articles.

Since 10 June 2011, PSRB has allowed publications to self-censor publications dealing with entertainment, sports, technology, health and children's issues, allowing editors to circumvent the mandated practice of submitting report drafts to the PSRB prior to publication. This relaxation has occurred in a series of trials over a span of time. In July 2011, Group 1 publications, consisting of 178 journals and magazines, were no longer censored. In the new system, the first strike requires the publication to pay a K 5,000,000 deposit. The second strike results in a fine that is withdrawn from that deposit. The depleted amount must be topped up by the publisher or the publication is banned. In December 2011, an additional 54 publications in the business and crime genres, were allowed to self-censor their work.

Tint Swe, director of the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division, has publicly called for the abolishment of media censorship in the country, stating that it is not in line with democratic practices. Tint Swe has also indicated that censorship for videos and films would be relaxed, without specifying a time frame.

In September 2011, several banned websites including Youtube, Democratic Voice of Burma and Voice of America have been unblocked. Foreign journalists, including those from the British Broadcasting Corporation and the Voice of America, were issued visas to the country the following month. A presidential adviser indicated that press censorship would be abolished in 2012 under new media legislation.

In January 2012, the Ministry of Information announced that it had forwarded a draft of a new media and press law to the Attorney General's Office for review. The draft law, which will need to be approved by the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (National Parliament), borrows some language from similar laws in Cambodia, Indonesia and Vietnam. The draft law, which is adapted from the 1962 Printers and Publishers Registration Law, will not be submitted during the second parliamentary session.

In August 2012, the Ministry of Information lifted the requirement that print media organizations submit materials to the government before publication; films remained subject to prior censorship. The head of the PSRB, Tint Swe, told the Agence France-Presse that "censorship began on 6 August 1964 and ended 48 years and two weeks later". The Associated Press described the statement as "the most dramatic move yet toward allowing freedom of expression in the long-repressed nation". However, the ban on private ownership of daily newspapers remained, as did a law forbidding the publication of "information relating to secrets of the security of the state". Journalism organizations expressed cautious optimism at the change, but predicted that "a pervasive culture of self-censorship" would remain, as journalists feared long prison sentences associated with libel and state security charges.

Read more about this topic:  Censorship In Burma, History

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