Myanmar has tried for decades to censor its countries media, filtering not only criticism of the government but most negative news, including reports of natural disasters. In August the government could not fight the tide anymore and had to make huge concessions. The government stated in August that would no longer censor private publications, a move that reporters described as a key step toward media freedom in a country.
Today, books are now openly read and sold in Myanmar. “Social reform is not a revolution, but rather evolution. It is a long march,” Min Aung, a bookshop owner explains.
The series of reforms in these areas began in 2011. Along with the removal of book bans, Myanmar lifted its ban on international news websites, YouTube, and exiled Burmese news websites.
International groups gave a careful welcome to these changes. Reporters Without Borders said it was worried that “other, inappropriate measures will be adopted as an alternative form of post-publication censorship”.
Myanmar appears to have made some progress here. However, it is vital to remember that the official censor, the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division, remains in place, even if its power has been weakened. In time we will see if these changes are real and permanent.