08/20/2012, 00.00
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Burmese government ends “all media” censorship after 50 years

From today, newspapers and broadcasts of political or religious nature will not be subject to prior examination. Last year, the government had already removed controls on less ideologically "sensitive" newspapers and magazines. A further signal of the path of democratic reforms promoted by Thein Sein.

Yangon (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Burmese government has banned the censorship of "all media" in the country, ending more than half a century of harsh restrictions on journalists and the media. The Information Ministry announced the decision after weeks of rumors and promised real and effective freedom of the press. The removal of censorship is just the latest in a series of reforms initiated by the Naypyidaw executive led by President Thein Sein, who last year spearheaded significant changes in the economic field, the release of hundreds of political prisoners, active collaboration with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and greater openness to the outside world. Western governments also have shown their appreciation of the changes, adopting a partial removal of economic and trade sanctions on Myanmar.

A note published today on the Ministry of Information website states that "censorship of all publications of a national character is lifted as of 20 August 2012." It is a landmark decision, since the prior examination of newspapers and magazines had been in force since 1962, the year the first military dictatorship came to power after a coup by General Ne Win.

Until last year, even songs, stories and other art forms with political or social implications were censored. In the past Burmese press used all kinds of tricks to get around the regime, leading to memorable healines. First among these the front page of a newspaper on the occasion of the release of Aung San Suu Kyi in November 2010, that used the initials of the "Lady" and the image of a football match.

The publications of a religious or political nature were the last to receive permission to publish uncensored, as of today. However, as early as last year, censorship was dropped for newspapers and magazines less ideologically "sensitive", as well as the texts of songs and stories given to the press.



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