There have been a number of positive developments in Burma with respect to the freedom of expression and opinion over the course of 2011 including some reductions in the level of censorship of the press, the loosening of restrictions on access to the Internet, and the recent release of political prisoners. However, while the international community has been focused on these openings, hundreds more individuals remain in prison solely for expressing their opinions and numerous obstacles continue to make it difficult for journalists and ordinary citizens in Burma to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and opinion.
Most notable among these obstacles is the fact that all of Burma’s repressive laws, including the Printers and Publishers Registration Law, which has severely restricted the activities of the press, and the Electronic Transactions Law, which has criminalized the sharing of electronic information deemed threatening to the Union, remain on the books unamended. Thus concerns remain that individuals may be subject to arrest for expressing their opinions, which leads to self-censorship. Additionally, since no changes have been made in the laws recent reforms are subject to reversal at any time.
Burma has a long way to go before its citizens will truly be able to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and opinion. The international community and specifically the United Nations must not accept half measures and must continue to call on the regime to change the laws such that they protect, rather than hinder, free expression and release all of those imprisoned for expressing their opinions.Burma Partnership, Censorship, Freedom of Expression