Burmese Journalists = Poor Bastards


From the department of the blatantly obvious: Being a Burmese journalist is one of the world’s worst jobs. The Christian Science Monitor recently snuck past Myanmar’s authoritarian secret police to speak with employees of an unnamed weekly Burmese newsmagazine and reported on their findings.

First things first. As you might expect, there’s no freedom of the press there. Myanmar’s censors nixed 25% of the week’s articles out of hand. Among the casualties:

  • A newsbrief on the opening of a new college (Banned due to the fact that the event has yet to be covered by the country’s official newswire)
  • A wire story about a new fossil discovery in France (Myanmar’s military junta bans all positive press coverage relating to France as a protest against Nicolas Sarkozy‘s calls for democracy in Burma)
  • A stock cartoon depicting a bird standing at a blackboard, used to illustrate a story about rural schools (Banned for unnamed reasons)

    But that’s what occured at a weekly that didn’t purposely provoke the government. Here’s what happened to the editor of a weekly that did:

    Zin Linn, a former editor of a weekly here, spent from 1991 to 1998 in Burma’s infamous Insein Prison for penning and running a series of articles on human rights. His wife was fired from her job at the museum, his daughter forced to leave medical school. Today, he lives in exile in Thailand, working for the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma. “They arrested me at midnight, and I was convicted by a military court, without any lawyer by my side,” says Linn. “Then, for seven years I was in solitary confinement. No sunshine. No one to talk to. All my hairs fell out. And for what?” According to Reporters Without Borders, at least 15 journalists have been arrested since September, several on charges that they merely spoke with foreign media.

    Meanwhile, the Times reported yesterday about bromances gone wrong.

    (Image via David on Formosa)