Cablegate: No News Is Good News - Burmese Government Censors

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) The Burmese government is now censoring or controlling
distribution of some foreign periodicals that are normally
sold with official authorization in Burma. This is an effort
to remove international reports of the May 30 attack on the
National League for Democracy (NLD) convoy in Depeyin and
subsequent detainment of Aung San Suu Kyi and the leadership
of the NLD.

2. (U) TIME and NEWSWEEK, which are distributed by a local
bookstore, were censored by the Burmese Press Scrutiny Board
to eliminate any such reports. We have attempted to locate
and buy the June 16 and June 23 issues of TIME, with no
success (Note: the June 16 issue of TIME featured a photo of
some of the bloody clothing and weapons that Embassy officers
recovered at the site of the May 30 attack. End Note.). The
June 16 issue of NEWSWEEK is available - minus pages 15-18
containing the article "The Missing Lady", written by Joe
Cochrane (although the magazine's Table of Contents lists the
article beside a picture of Aung San Suu Kyi). Other popular
foreign periodicals, such as the English language editions of
the major Thai dailies, the "Bangkok Nation" and the "Bangkok
Post", continue to be sold uncensored (although several days
old) on the streets of Rangoon.

3. (U) These foreign publications, together with
international broadcasters such as VOA, RFA and BBC, are a
vital source of information for Burmese, who cannot read
reliable reports in the vernacular press. The only reporting
on the events of May 30 they have seen in the
government-controlled press have been articles blaming any
"unrest" on the actions of the NLD and repeating the
government's dubious numbers of death and casualties.

4) (U) The Embassy American Center makes uncensored versions
of major international periodicals such as TIME, NEWSWEEK,
International Herald Tribune, and many others, available to
the public six days a week. Burmese journalists and others
continue to keep abreast of events inside their country by
reading these foreign media at the American Center. In
recent weeks, the American Center Library has been even more
crowded than usual, particularly with students whose
universities were shut following the May 30 ambush.

© Scoop Media

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