Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The Burmese censorship board that monitors all domestic media allowed the media to cover the breaking news of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s death by US special forces in a commando raid this week. Editors said that readers were interested in the story and papers sold well.
‘The censor board allowed news, photos and commentaries on the news’, a veteran editor told Mizzima. ‘They were allowed to publish Obama’s speech and the US triumphant raid. This is world headline news, and they have no reason to censor it’.
‘7 Days News’, published on Wednesday, covered the news on the front page with a headline: ‘Bin Laden has died’.
‘We could cover all the Bin Laden related news. There was no censorship. We published this news with a detailed timeline, day by day, minute by minute’, an editor told Mizzima.
Similarly, the ‘Pyithu Khit’ journal, published on Tuesday, ran a headline ‘Justice has been done’, and excerpts from President Obama’s statement. An editor said that international news journals’ circulation were dramatically increased.
Allowing coverage of terrorism in any form is unusual in Burma, probably because the regime fears inciting homegrown terrorists, said veteran journalist Win Tin.
‘They are concerned about terrorist activities in Burma. I assume the government might see this news as the fall of a terrorist leader so they didn’t censor anything on this story’, he said.
‘Some people wonder if the dictators in Burma will be left untouched if even Bin Laden could be shot dead. Allowing coverage of this news in domestic journals heightened the people’s interest because the government [US] is talking about taking action’, Win Tin said.
The censorship board did not allow coverage of the recent demonstrations against dictators in Arab countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and other Middle East countries.