The shock of Burma's media ban

I’ve got to start this blog with an apology.

Each morning, the media team here at Amnesty gathers around a table to run through the day’s human rights news – it’s a process that given the mere nature of the subject matter can take a long time.

Anyway, this morning, my colleague Niluccio rightly flagged up a BBC report saying the ruling Burmese junta is to ban foreign media and observers from covering their upcoming elections on 7 November. I snorted and said sarcastically “well, there’s a surprise”.

It was a bit rude of me – and I’m sorry. But my reaction does illustrate the problems with Burma.

Given the way the junta operates, my thoughts weren’t shock, more minor surprise that it hadn’t happened earlier.

Human rights violations are almost the norm in Burma – and to try and operate as a journalist there is almost impossible.

There was a moving tale in yesterday’s Observer of the daughter of a detained journalist that is certainly worth a read. But there are countless stories of journalists risking their lives.

The BBC’s Nita May told her tale to the student paper Mancunion earlier in the year. The Democratic Voice of Burma work wonders daily in an attempt to try to get news out of the country – a number of their reporters were their inspiration behind the moving film, Burma VJ, which another colleague Yule E admitted to seeing for the first time last night.

Over the last few years, we’ve worked with countless other journalists in an attempt to expose the reality of the junta’s regime. And such is their bravery, that earlier this year, Amnesty gave a special award to the journalists of Burma at our Media Awards.

Hopefully, it encouraged more to follow suit. In the meantime you can try and help get the message back into Burma by supporting our campaign to get radios across the border. You can also stand in solidarity with the people of Burma by taking action here.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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