Heavy restrictions are being placed on domestic press coverage of Suu Kyi’s release and its aftermath following intervention by the junta’s censor board.
Only a select number of journals in Rangoon could publish front-page images of the opposition leader, who was freed from house arrest on 13 November. The remaining majority could only cover the news deep inside their publications.
“We can print facts on when she was released, what she said to the public upon her release, when she was detained and why, and also reference quotations from the [state-run] newspapers,” said Ko Ko, chief editor of Flower News and Yangon Times news journals.
He added however that he was “thankful” that the Ministry of Information’s Press Scrutiny and Registration Division (PSRD) allowed him to print anything at all.
Another news journal editor said the censor board approved only one page out of the four his journal had prepared on the release. Burma has some of the world’s strictest media laws, and all press material is required to go via the PSRD prior to it being published.
Sales of news journals soared at the weekend, as the Nobel laureate was finally released after more than seven years under house arrest. Traffic to DVB’s two websites more that quadrupled, while the event made front-page headlines across the world.
“The journals are all sold out,” said a distributor in Rangoon on Sunday. “Journals out today [Sunday] are Flower News, News Watch and True News – we have run out of them here and so are buying them from elsewhere.”
Another journalist who attended Suu Kyi’s media briefing at the NLD’s Rangoon headquarters said however that he had “never seen this much media presence at any [government] press conference.
“All my fear went away when I saw Daw Suu and heard her voice. She will stand by the media’s side and she has the power to take away our fears. That gave us courage to [cover] activities related to her.”