Sneaking Cyclone News Out of Myanmar to Facebook

According to Lwin, any foreigners caught sending photos abroad would be "blacklisted, deported immediately and will never be allowed back in the country, fined and have their media related items confiscated."

Jason Slack, an administrator for the page, said that "for their security and so the junta can't counteract the means by which it comes out," the less said about how the group is receiving the information, the better.

"At the moment, what information is coming out is through the carefully guarded and difficult-to-trace means that they've been using for a long time," Slack said.

He said that after the Saffron Revolution -- a Buddhist-monk-led protest in September 2007 that ended in a violent government crackdown -- activists were worried that Myanmar people featured in protest pictures would be hunted down and arrested. "So we're more careful with what we use now," Slack said.

Freedoms of speech have been restricted by the ruling military junta since it seized power in 1962. The current regime came to power in the late 1980s as the State Law and Order Restoration Council, which later changed its name to the State Peace and Development Council.

The SPDC ignored the results of the country's first democratic elections in May 1990, which delivered a resounding victory to the opposition National League for Democracy, and arrested its leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Price winner who is the daughter of a slain national hero.

Since then, Suu Kyi has been mostly under house arrest. The regime refuses to address political reconciliation and remains under heavy U.S. economic sanctions.

Freedoms of speech are still heavily restricted, and the country once dubbed "the rice bowl of Asia" is now plagued with poverty, disease, crime and corruption. Cyclone Nargis threatens the country's more than 45 million people who are already living a precarious existence.

A nationwide referendum was scheduled for May 10, on a constitution drafted by the SPDC. The elections were expected by Myanmar experts to be "free but not fair." The junta refused to postpone the elections as the country's people struggled with the aftermath of the cyclone.

With the junta attempting to block foreign reporting on the extent of the damage and on the government's response, Web sites like Facebook may become a more important source of news and information.

There are still some restrictions -- you must be a member of Facebook to see the group's page.

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