Mon, 2009-02-23 02:35
By Zin Linn
Burma Media Association will have to launch its sixth annual conference (from 21 to 23 February 2009) in Chiang Mai. The association was formed in 2001by exile Burmese journalists and writers based in various countries. This year there will be a special event of delivering “Kenji Nagai Award” to an imprisoned female journalist in Burma.
The first award commemorating slain Japanese video journalist Kenji Nagai will be presented in the Burma Media Conference to a female reporter who reported about an area of the country that was devastated by Nargis cyclone last year. Last October, the media association made a proposal to set up the memorial award to Nagai’s parents through APF News in Japan — with which the Japanese journalist had a contract — and the parents gave their consent to the idea.
Eint Khaing Oo, a 24 year old female journalist from Eco-vision journal, was arrested on 10 June 2008, while covering about a peaceful rally initiated by Nargis victims. Police accused her of taking photos of the victims with an intention of sending those pictures to foreign-media. She was charged under the Criminal Code section 505 (b) and 124 (a) of crime against public tranquility and sentenced to 2 years imprisonment. According to her lawyer Khin Maung Shein, she didn’t commit any crime under this section. Eint Khaing is a reporter and she was doing her job. And the news was not based on untrustworthy data and she didn’t send fictitious news to other news agencies. She is now in the notorious Insein Prison.
Burma was at the forefront of press freedom in Southeast Asia before 1962 military coup. The country enjoyed free press without censorship. As many as three dozen newspapers, including English and Chinese dailies, existed between 1948 and 1962 under civilian government. Even the prime minister’s office never closed for the journalists in those days. There were also freedom to set up relation with international press agencies.
The situation changed in 1962, when the military seized power. All newspapers were nationalized by the junta led by Gen. Ne Win. It established a Press Scrutiny Board (PSB) to enforce strict censorship on all forms of printed matter including advertisements and obituaries. Since then, military junta’s censorship and self-censorship are commonplace in Burma and these have severely restricted political rights and civil liberties.
Press Scrutiny and Registration Division (PSRD) is a major oppressive tool of the incumbent military regime. Not surprisingly, Burma stands downgraded from a free state to a prison state. All news media in Burma are strictly censored and tightly controlled by the military — all daily newspapers, radio and television stations are under supervision of the junta. Whatever some privately-owned journals and magazines are there, they are strictly under the PSRD scanner. No printed matter can bring out without PSRD permission.
You must be logged in to post a comment.