The media in Myanmar:
Testing the depth of the transition
Ed Pauker, Myanmar Country Director, BBC Media Action
Aung San, Freelance Journalist, Myanmar
Rune Ottosen, Professor, Department of Journalism and Media Studies, Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Science
Marco Mezzera, Senior Adviser, NOREF
In November 2010, following a resounding electoral victory by the party it had endorsed, the military junta in Myanmar declared the official inception of a transition from military rule to a civilian-controlled democracy. This watershed event was followed a few months later by the formation of a nominally civilian government. As part of this transition, which was immediately welcomed by most of the international community, a series of measures were taken by the country’s central authorities to prove the sincerity of their declared intention to open up and democratise a system that had been under tight military control for about half a century.
Political prisoners were released, among them Aung San Suu Kyi, the main opposition figure, who had been under house arrest for more than a decade and who would then go on to secure a seat in the parliamentary by-elections that were held in April 2012.
The media has obviously also been part of this transitions, both as a witness and as a beneficiary of some of the liberalising measures. Censorship was gradually lifted, until pre-publication scrutiny requirements were completely abolished in August 2012.
At the same time, however, some of the old censorship structures remain in place, such as the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division, while the state controls the main broadcasters and publications. In addition, during the last few months some worrying signs have emerged that a reversal in the transition process may be taking place: journalists have been facing increasing intimidation and at times have been imprisoned or sentenced to hard labour after covering politically sensitive issues such as the ethnic conflicts or the Rohingya problem. About a month ago one of them was killed in unclear circumstances while in army custody.
The public debate will thus aim at providing a stocktaking assessment of the current situation of the media in Myanmar.
Please register your participation to email@example.com no later than 12 December
Read more about the event here