[IWAR] BURMA intl media

From: Michael Wilson (MWILSON/0005514706at_private)
Date: Fri Jan 02 1998 - 10:13:48 PST

  • Next message: Michael Wilson: "[IWAR] US nerve gas leak '68"

                 International broadcasts pierce Burma's bamboo curtain
          Copyright ) 1998 Nando.net
          Copyright ) 1998 The Associated Press
       DAWN GWIN CAMP, Thai-Burma Border (January 1, 1998 3:42 p.m. EST
       http://www.nando.net) -- A half-dozen young broadcasters tick off their
       routine stories at their headquarters in a steamy jungle hut: Burmese
       troops torching an ethnic minority village, women forced into slave
       labor, a student tortured for passing out pro-democracy pamphlets.
       Their target audience is a few miles away, across the Salween River in
       Burma, one of the world's most closed societies.
       Their news reports, along with radio dramas and music programs, are
       produced in this isolated, guerrilla camp in northern Thailand by
       one-time student activists. Then they're sent by foot, vehicle and plane
       to Oslo, Norway, to be broadcast back by short-wave on the Democratic
       Voice of Burma, or DVB.
       Radio remains the prime news source in impoverished Burma, and millions
       avidly tune in any of four foreign stations to hear what is happening in
       their own, rigidly controlled country.
       Besides the DVB, Burmese-language programing is carried by the British
       Broadcasting Corp., the Voice of America and the Washington D.C.-based
       Radio Free Asia. Although audience figures aren't available, all four
       receive hundreds of letters from listeners inside Burma.
       A strong supporter of Burma's pro-democracy forces, Norway funds the
       5-year-old DVB, which hopes to improve reception quality inside Burma by
       setting up a relay station, perhaps somewhere in the former Soviet
       Burmese get their official news from the Burma Broadcasting Service, run
       by a military regime that crushed a pro-democracy revolt in 1988 and
       sent thousands fleeing to frontier areas.
       The regime periodically accuses Western news organizations, including
       the four stations, of trying to destabilize the country. But listening
       to foreign broadcasts is not illegal.
       "We are not putting out a political line. We just believe people should
       have a different point of view," says Dan Southerland, executive
       director of the U.S.-government funded Radio Free Asia, which also
       broadcasts to China, Tibet, Vietnam, North Korea, Laos and Cambodia.
       "The long-term effect is hard to predict. But it seems to be good for
       morale. It gives Burmese a connection to the outside world," Southerland
       said in an interview.
       All four stations focus heavily on the pro-democracy movement in Burma,
       led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, and on human rights
       violations by the military government.
       VOA, BBC and RFA say they present objective news reports, while the
       Democratic Voice of Burma is clearly a radio with a cause, and often one
       on the run.
       Aye Aye Khaing, a 27-year-old radio reporter, had to flee for her life
       when Burmese troops attacked their clandestine base and studio inside
       Burma last year. She has moved camp seven times since 1991, when she
       fled Rangoon after twice being jailed for political activism.
       A daughter, 5-year-old December, was born in one of the frontier camps,
       from which the former students and other anti-government groups have
       tried to mount a resistance movement.
       At past locations, Aye Aye Khaing recalled, the "studio" consisted of
       some recording equipment sheltered by blankets to block out sounds of
       jungle wildlife.
       Now, or at least until the next move, the studio at this headquarters of
       the All Burma Students Democratic Front has a concrete slab for
       flooring, some blue plastic insulation, one small fan and a portable
       electric generator which is powered when recordings are made.
       The reporters say they try to be as factual as possible, often trying to
       find several sources to confirm an event. Some of their dramas are
       compelling, and strictly educational programs are also featured.
       But the radio's stance is clear: it is strongly opposed to the military
       regime and does not offer the government's version of developments.
       Only one of the radio reporters here had done any previous work in
       journalism, although some have been receiving training from the
       Indochina Media Memorial Fund and other international media
       "My only experience in radio was listening to it," says Aye Aye Khaing.
       One of her colleagues, Tin Maung Lwin, 48, held degrees in accounting,
       law and zoology and says he was apolitical until circumstances forced
       him to flee Rangoon in 1989.
       "Even educated people like myself knew very little about democracy and
       human rights," he said. "Now I know, so I want to tell my people."
       -- By DENIS D. GRAY, The Associated Press

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Apr 13 2001 - 12:58:59 PDT