April 2, 2009

A new electronic censorship system in Burma exposes the lack of reform that can be expected after elections in 2010.

In February 2009 Major Tint Swe, Director of the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division at the Ministry of Information, announced that the regime will be moving from a paper based censorship system to digital censorship system.

The move to an electronic system of censorship will require significant investment in computers and other equipment. The regime employs hundreds of censors.

“To invest significant resources and time in this new censorship system, just one year before elections, exposes the fact that there will be no change under the new constitution,” said Mark Farmaner, Director of Burma Campaign UK. “Free media is an essential part of any democracy, but there will be no freedoms for the media, censorship will remain. Those arguing that the international community should support 2010 elections, because the new Parliament will mean an increase of political space, are simply wrong. Even if there could be free debate in the Parliament, no-one would be allowed to report it.”

Burma’s military dictatorship is expected to hold a rigged election early in 2010. The new election will bring into force a new constitution that does not repeal any oppressive laws. It keeps the military in power through a combination of twenty-five percent of seats reserved in a rubber-stamp Parliament, and front political parties. The Army will have veto power over all decisions by the Parliament. The last election was held in 1990, and the National League for Democracy won 82% of seats in Parliament, but the military refused to hand over power.

For more information contact Mark Farmaner on 0207 324 4710.

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