Burma – Cynicism in the Face of the Storm

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Street scene in Yangon, Burma According to Wednesday’s edition of The New Light of Myanmar (an English newspaper published by the Burmese government), a British man was deported “for sake of friendly relations“.

Apparently he had entered Burma on tourist visas in recent years and reported for the BBC from there.

For the Burmese government, that’s a crime.

So Burma blacklisted him. And when he tried to enter the country again this week, he was sent home on the same flight “for the sake of friendly relations between the two countries.”

How insecure must a regime be to be so paranoid?

If the regime had nothing to hide, they could just let foreigners into the country – be they journalists, aid-workers or tourists.

If the journalists then really reported things that weren’t truthful, others would prove them wrong. They’d lose their credibility immediately and they’d most likely lose their jobs.

But I guess authoritarian regimes like Burma, China, Iran or North Korea think they can control public opinion. The idea of free flow of information must be among their worst nightmares.

I’ve attached the full text of the Burmese article below. It speaks for itself.

“A journalist who is working for BBC was deported yesterday as he broke visa rules and regulations. Mr Andrew William Harding, a British citizen, arrived Yangon International Airport on Thai Airway TG 3069 flight at 12.45 p.m. yesterday and showed his tourist visa to enter Myanmar. He was deported on the same flight.
Andrew William Harding also entered Myanmar with tourist visa in 2006. During his stay in Myanmar from 6 to 13 June 2006, he interviewed anti-government groups and aired false accusations and fabricated news in his “Undercover Burma” programme. He showed his tourist visa and entered Myanmar again in 2007. During the stay in the country from 7 to 12 September, he met with those creating unrest in Yangon and put their demands for the unrest in his broadcast.
As he broke the visa rules and regulations and entered Myanmar, he had already been blacklisted.
His previous passport number when he entered the country was [number omitted] and he held [number omitted] and tried to enter Myanmar yesterday. Journalists from news agencies in Western countries illegally entered the country very often and made fabricated news with the help of anti-government groups.
Without taking action against the British journalist, the government deported him for the sake of friendly relations between the two countries.”
Source: The New Light of Myanmar, Rangoon, in English 7 May 08

More information from the BBC and DW on the situation in Burma:

Burmese blog the cyclone

Despite Disaster, a Glimmer of Hope for Burma’s Future

Written by Thorsten

May 8, 2008 at 6:27 pm

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