Burma announces abolition of press censorship

Monday 20 August 2012 16.11
Burma claims it will no longer censor the press in the country
Burma claims it will no longer censor the press in the country

Burma has announced the abolition of press censorship, the latest in a series of economic and political reforms by the regime.

The government’s announcement marks a u-turn from the oppressive policies of the military that ran Burma, officially known as Myanmar, for almost 50 years until March 2011.

The junta's censors not only kept tight control over the media but monitored every song, cartoon, book and piece of art for subversive content.

After lifting some restrictions on publications in June last year, the authorities today extended press freedom to the remaining 80 political and six religious journals.

"Any publication inside the country will not have to get prior permission from us before they are published, effective today," said Tint Swe, head of the press censorship board at the Ministry of Information.

"From now on, our department will just carry out registering publications for keeping them at the national archives and issuing a license to printers and publishers," he said.

However, privately run daily newspapers are still not permitted, leaving a monopoly to state-run newspapers that have changed little in style or substance since the military was in control.

Journalists welcomed the lifting of restrictions but some are worried their reports could still fall foul of various laws on the statute book.

"It's a big improvement on the past. I do welcome it but there will be more responsibilities on the editors since there are some existing laws under which action can be taken against journalists for their writing," said Wai Phyo, chief editor of the Weekly Eleven journal.

Keywords: burma, myanmar

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