Friday, August 26, 2005

Burma Gets A Taste Of Free Press

Burma, whose government ruthlessly censors its media and maintains over 1350 political prisoners, got a taste of free press on Monday. Now, millions of Burmese can tune into an independent television news station (Democratic Voice of Burma) run by Burmese exiles in far-way Norway. By broadcasting such a distance from Burma, Khin Maung Win and his team avoids the central government's harsh censorship. While the editorial team supervises in Oslo, television journalists risk arrest filming footage and smuggling their tapes out of Burma.

Burma (Karen Region)

Khin Maung Win is hopeful that their efforts will bring the oppressed populace what they need:
We are focused on information and education, such as the plight of Burmese migrant workers abroad, the HIV/Aids situation, the environment situation. This is all information all the people in Burma need. The government chooses the programmes that seem to be beneficial to them, but we will choose the programmes that are beneficial for the viewer and the people.
Khin Maung Win is unconcerned with the military attempting to disrupt the weekly 2-hour TV broadcast. He claims the generals will tune in, as they did to his previous radio station:
At the beginning they jammed our radio, but later on they became our regular audience, because they wanted to get real information, even about their own country.
They cannot rely on reports from their subordinates. So they have to listen to our radio to get real information, or to measure the feeling of the grassroot people. We believe that will happen with television also.
According to Reporters Without Borders, Burma ranks third worst on media freedom, behind North Korea and Cuba, respectively.

Hopefully, this effort will not only educate the masses, but wake them out of decades of lethargy and brutal oppression. Perhaps, this taste of free press will only whet the Burmese appetite for liberation.


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