/ 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
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.