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No Space for Press Freedom in Burma's Elections

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The situation changed in 1962 when the military seized power. All newspapers were nationalized and a Press Scrutiny Board created to enforce strict censorship on all forms of printed matter. Since then, censorship and self-censorship have become commonplace in Burma.

The Press Scrutiny and Registration Division is a major tool or repression of the Than Shwe military regime. Not surprisingly, Burma stands downgraded from a free state to a prison state. All news media in Burma is strictly censored and tightly controlled by the military all daily newspapers, radio and television stations are under supervision of the junta.

The radio, television and other media outlets are monopolized for propaganda warfare by the regime and opposition views are not allowed. Last year some FM radio stations have come up, but people view them as a part of the military-backed USDP's election-campaign tools.

The regime knows well how to take advantage of the popularity of FM radio. They are now using the new stations to draw people away from the exiled radios such as BBC, VOA, RFA Burmese Services.

Unless the junta guarantees essential human rights including freedom of expression and freedom of association, its polling process will be meaningless. The lifeblood of democracy is the free flow of information. Therefore media workers in Burma hope for more assistance, understanding and pragmatic help from international media groups.

Without press freedom a nation cannot practice democracy. Without press freedom, the 2010 elections may not bring positive democratic change. Thus, media workers around the globe should watch the sham elections under the unjust rules and regulations of Burma's junta, while journalists inside cannot afford to cover the unfairness of the forthcoming secret vote.

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Zin Linn was born on February 9, 1946 in a small town in Mandalay Division. He began writing poems in 1960 and received a B.A (Philosophy) in 1976. He became an activist in the High School Union after the students' massacre on 7th July 1962. (more...)

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