|Title:|| ||Burma: Freedom of expression in transition
|Date of publication:|| ||July 2013|
"Burma is at a crossroads. The period of transition since 2010 has opened up the space for freedom
of expression to an extent unpredicted by even the most optimistic in the country. Yet this space
is highly contingent on a number of volatile factors: the goodwill of the current President and his
associates in Parliament, the ability of Aung San Suu Kyi to assure the military that her potential
ascendency is not a threat to their economic interests and the on-going civil conflicts not flaring into
civil war. The restrictive apparatus of the former military state is still available for the government to
use to curtail freedom of expression – the most draconian laws are still on the statute book affecting
the media, the digital sphere and the arts; police and local authorities have significant discretion
when it comes to approving speech and performance, and the judiciary has a limited institutional
understanding of freedom of expression. In effect, the old state remains in the shadows – or as one
journalist told Index: “the generals have only changed their suits”.
Yet Burma has changed. The country is freer than it was during Index’s mission in 2009, when
meetings were held in secret.
In March this year, Index co-produced a symposium on artistic
freedom of expression with local partners, the first public conversation of its kind in recent history
The abolition of pre-censorship of newspapers and literature, the return of daily newspapers, the
release of political prisoners and the open space given to political debate all signal real change.
The question for the government and the opposition is: will the transition be sustained with legal
and political reform to reinforce the space for freedom of expression and to dismantle the old state
apparatus that continues to pose a threat to freedom of expression?
This paper is divided into the following chapters: Burmese politics and society; media freedom;
artistic freedom of expression and digital freedom of expression. The report is based on research
conducted in the UK and 20 interviews (with individuals and groups) in March 2013 conducted in
Mandalay and Yangon. Due to the ongoing possibility of future prosecutions, the interviewees have
been kept anonymous.
Politics and society looks at the role of the President, United Solidarity and Development Party
(USDP), Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy (NLD) and the student
movement and freedom of expression, ethnic conflict and the constitution and the need for reform,
freedom of association and freedom of assembly.
The media freedom chapter looks at the press council, existing impediments to media freedom,
the state of media plurality and self-censorship in the press. The artistic freedom of expression
chapter covers theatre and performance art, literature, music and film. Finally
, the digital freedom
of expression chapter looks at access issues, the impact of new technologies and state censorship
on the digital sphere. The report is based on a series of interviews conducted in Rangoon and
Mandalay in March 2013, with additional interviews conducted in April 2013 in the same cities."|
|Author/creator:|| ||Mike Harris|
|Source/publisher:|| ||Index on Censorship|
|Format/size:|| ||pdf (1.1MB-reduced version; 4.6MB-original)|
|Date of entry/update:|| ||11 August 2013|
|Title:|| ||An Unfinished Painting
|Date of publication:|| ||March 2007|
|Description/subject:|| ||How prison life honed Htein Lin’s skills as a performance artist...
"Silence enveloped the room as about 30 people watched a man in a white robe meditating before them. Beside him, tubes of oil paint lay on a mat. The man looked around and raised his hands as if he were a captive touching an invisible wall. He then began to pour red paint on the mat, his movements becoming faster and more forceful. Green paint followed the red, and his movements became calmer. Using his hands and feet, he painted the mat, finally taking off his outer robe and laying himself on it, on the colored surface. The painted mat, the robe and the artist himself were fused into one—in a creation called “Love and Anger” by Htein Lin, a pioneer of performance art in Burma..."|
|Author/creator:|| ||Ampika Jirat|
|Source/publisher:|| ||"The Irrawaddy" Vol. 15, No. 3|
|Date of entry/update:|| ||04 May 2008|