The government of Burma has removed 2,082 names from a list of organizations and individuals barred from the country, among them representatives of Reporters Without Borders, who had been barred from Burma for 25 years.
“We hail this announcement, which follows the lifting of prior censorship for certain publications, and we hope to be able to confirm its validity in the near future,” the press freedom organization announced.
Burma still faces challenges in the media field, the organization said. “The first priority is to initiate major reforms of laws that involve press freedom, as well as laws on ‘cyber-crimes,’” said Christophe Deloire, director general of Reporters Without Borders. “These are actions to which we hope to lend our support.”
Government action is also needed to improve working conditions for journalists, and to establishing a legal environment favourable to formation of private media companies, Reporters Without Borders said.
The organization noted that it had received repeated invitations from Burmese media organizations, journalists and bloggers who wanted to express their views on how to end censorship and to expand press freedom. “An international conference in Rangoon on 24 and 25 September organized by the Democratic Voice of Burma and the government could provide an excellent opportunity for Reporters Without Borders to enter discussions, on the ground, concerning public media,” Deloire said.
Before the 28 August action, Burmese immigration authorities had kept a list of 6,165 people and organizations prohibited from entering the country. They included the sons of Aung San Suu Kyi, the opposition leader recently elected to parliament, as well as businesspeople, political activists and journalists.
Burma is still ranked 169th out of 179 countries in the Reporters Without Borders 2011-2012 Press Freedom Index.