‘International community must act on Burma’, Article 19

September 26, 2007

Thousands of Burmese have taken to the streets in peaceful demonstrations to protest the military regime. What started as a protest against fuel hike on August 15 has now turned into a massive people’s demonstration which includes the highly revered Buddhist monks.

Today, the junta fired tear gas to disperse protesters, who have defied threats by the military. So far, 80 demonstrators, including monks had been arrested. Press freedom remains one of the biggest casualties with communications cut-off, journalists threatened, and their cameras/memory cards confiscated by the police.

More violence is expected in the days to come despite calls by the International community to the military junta to handle the situation diplomatically.

In the midst of this crisis, Article 19, a human rights organisation with special focus on defence and promotion of freedom of expression and freedom of information worldwide has called on the International community to join in full solidarity with the people of Burma and support their peaceful struggle for freedom of expression and democracy:

Dr Agnes Callamard, Article 19 executive director said in the statement “Even despite the relentless freedom of expression restrictions imposed on them, the Burmese people have joined together in an ardent and determined expression of their dissatisfaction towards the regime. We must now use our own freedom of expression to do the same.”

Read the rest of the statement here.

Please support the call by Article 19, by distributing this statement to all relevant persons, organisations and officials. You can start by sending to your respective embassies, especially those of ASEAN countries, to pressure them to immediately and diplomatically engage with Burma on this growing crisis.


Between Thaksin and the junta – who was worse for the Thai media?

June 11, 2007

Did the media have it better under the regime of deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra? Respected media reform advocate Prof Ubonrat Siriyuwasak tells The Nation that as bad as Thaksin had been, the current junta-led regime is worse for having wiped out the constitutional guarantee for all freedoms.

She notes the print media’s apparent indifference to violations against the broadcast news media and the Internet, and deplores what she thinks is the cause – the politicisation of media outlets and organisations, including the Thai Journalists Association and the Press Council, who appeared to have lost their independence.

To find out her suggestions on what the people can do to fight the current assault on media freedom, read the full interview here.

Government censorship of Net tends to be self-defeating, says SEAPA executive director

April 16, 2007

“For all their best intentions, those who seek to control content in cyberspace have a tendency to breed self-fulfilling fears,” says SEAPA Executive Director Roby Alampay, in an opinion piece published on IHT on 12 April 2007, following the Thai government’s blocking of YouTube. Read it in full.

Also, hear his interview with Voice of America, explaining the precarious situation in Thailand as regards freedom of expression under the current military regime.

On 77th bithday, imprisoned Burmese journalist U Win Tin demands his right to be free

March 12, 2007

uwintin2.jpgBurmese journalist U Win Tin, imprisoned for almost 18 years by the military junta, marked his 77th birthday on 12 March 2007 by issuing a rare call for resistance against the regime.

Reporters Without Borders and the Burma Media Association said: “The inhumanity of this military junta, which has imprisoned a sick, 77-year-old man for nearly 18 years, needs no further proof…”

“I am not going to beg you to free me. It is my right to be freed because I have served 18 years of my 20-year sentence and I qualify for early release,” U Win Tin reportedly said to the director general of the prison service when the latter visited on 8 March.

See the full RSF report here.

Nine protesters released in Burma, warned of life imprisonment penalty in future

March 5, 2007

alerts-button.jpgThe military junta has released nine demonstrators arrested for participating in a 22 February 2007 protest against the regime for failing to address soaring inflation and other issues of the day, the New Delhi-based online daily Mizzima.com reported on 27 February. Read the rest of this entry »

SEAPA: Death of two videopersons covering probe on Indonesian ferry fire, a bitter reminder on journalists’ safety

March 1, 2007

alerts-button.jpgThe Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) is saddened over the deaths of broadcast journalists Suherman, 31, and Muhammad Guntur, 36, who were killed on 25 February 2007, in Jakarta, Indonesia, while covering an investigation into a ferry fire that cost some 50 lives.

Both were camerapersons for private broadcasters – Suherman was with SCTV; and Muhammad Guntur, Lativi. According to the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), the two were among 18 journalists accompanying experts from the National Committee for Transport Safety and Forensic Laboratory Center on board the wrecked ferry when it listed and sank without warning. According to reports, all the journalists were not wearing life vests. Read the rest of this entry »

Authorities ban films, books, television talkshow; threaten Internet users again

February 28, 2007

idontwant.jpgalerts-button.jpgThe Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) is concerned over a series of actions by Malaysian authorities against the broadcast and print media and cyberspace, which point to increasing intolerance for free expression and differing viewpoints.

The National Censorship Board recently banned the film “I don’t want to sleep alone” by award-winning filmmaker Tsai Ming Liang, according to a 27 February release by Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ). Read the rest of this entry »