Update: Suu Kyi urges world to keep an eye on Myanmar

Updated On: Sep 22, 2011

Pro democracy leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi urged the world on Wednesday not to take her eyes off her country, stating, "We hope that we are going to see signs of real change very soon."

Speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative via video link, she noted that "If the world wants to help Burma, the world needs to know what's going on in Burma. You really have to follow what is going on there."

Her address follows recent progress in Myanmar, in which she was able to hold meetings with foreign journalists and engage in talks with the government.

Recently, the government hosted the UN Envoy to Myanmar on a 5 day visit, and appears to have adopted a more conciliatory stance toward its opponents and relaxed its grip on access to independent information.

Report: Suu Kyi urges world to keep eye on Myanmar  (AFP, 22 September 2011)

Last Friday, banned websites, including those operated by several exiled dissidents were unblocked by the government. Restrictions on media outlets such as Voice of America and the British Broadcasting Corp., as well the Democratic Voice of Burma, Radio Free Asia and the video file-sharing site YouTube, were all eased.

Despite this progress, international media watchdog group The Committee to Protect Journalists, said that Myanmar remains among the most restricted and censored in the world even though the government has pledged democratic reform.

According to the Democratic Voice of Burma, there are currently about 25 journalists detained in Myanmar, 17 of them its own.

Since just 0.3% of Myanmar's population has access to the internet, local print media is far more important, said Committee to Protect Journalists spokesman Shawn Crispin. "Until Burma's military-backed regime stops pre-censoring the local media and releases all the journalists it holds behind bars, Burma will remain one of the most restricted media environments in the world."

This week, journalist Sithu Zeya of the Norway-based news broadcaster Democratic Voice of Burma was sentenced to a 10-year-prison term for circulating material online that could "damage tranquillity and unity in the government" under the country's Electronic Act, Reporters Without Borders said.

Mr. Sithu Zeya had already been sentenced in 2010 to eight years behind bars after he was caught photographing the aftermath of a grenade attack in the city of Yangon.

However, in August, three state-run newspapers stopped running back-page slogans blasting the foreign media for the first time in years.

Report: Watchdog: Myanmar media restrictions among worst (AP, 20 September 2011)

Report: Myanmar Unblocks Some Banned Websites (WSJ, September 16 2011)

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