Afrique Ameriques Europe Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
Burma 20 May 2005

Government imposes news blackout on bombings, gives low casualty figures

Reporters Without Borders and the Burma Media Association today condemned the news blackout imposed by the authorities on coverage of three bomb blasts that took place almost simultaneously in two supermarkets and a busy convention centre in Rangoon on 7 May.

"Once again the Burmese junta has deprived the public of access to the information it needs," the two organizations said. "It is unacceptable that the authorities should prevent journalists from covering such major occurrences."

According to the authorities, 19 people were killed and 160 were injured in the explosions. But these figures are way below those given by witnesses and diplomatic sources, who estimate that at least 40 people died and 200 were injured.

A newspaper editor told the two organizations that no reporters were allowed to visit hospitals in the capital to seek more accurate casualty figures. The police also denied journalists access to Yay-Way cemetery, one of the biggest in Rangoon. "Not only were we not allowed to do any investigative work, but we were also forced to publish nothing but the statements issued by the authorities," the editor said.

In an even more ridiculous move, the authorities banned newspapers from putting the date and cause of death in death announcements. At the same time, the death announcements and obituary page on the government website Myanma Alin has been inaccessible since the bombings.

The information minister, Gen. Kyaw San, and the interior minister, Gen. Maung Oo, were both extremely evasive when questioned about the explosions by foreign journalists at a news conference on 15 May.

In this country
29 May - Sri Lanka
Journalists trying to cover fate of Tamils are threatened, obstructed
28 May - Burma
Junta allows only one-sided coverage of Aung San Suu Kyi’s trial
15 May - Burma
Growing restrictions on free flow of information
15 May - Burma
Sakharov Network calls for immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi, Sakharov Prize laureate 1990
29 January - Burma
Petition launched for release of two Burmese bloggers serving sentences of 20 and 59 years in prison

in the annual report
Burma - Annual report 2008
Burma - Annual report 2007
Burma - Annual report 2006

4 May 2009 - Nepal
Mission report : A call to end violence and impunity
2 April 2009 - Pakistan
Fact-finding visit by Reporters Without Borders to Swat “valley of fear”
16 March 2009 - Afghanistan
Report of fact-finding mission : Press freedom in free-fall in run-up to presidential election

Asia archives
2009 archives
2008 archives
2007 archives
2006 archives
2005 archives
2004 archives
2003 archives
2002 archives
2001 archives
2000 archives

Asia press releases
3 June - North Korea
Pyongyang judges asked to be lenient with two American journalists
3 June - Afghanistan
US forces arrest a journalist in Khost
3 June - China
“Tank Man” photo displayed outside Chinese embassy in Paris on eve of Tiananmen Square massacre
2 June - China
Blocking of Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Blogger deprives Chinese of Web 2.0
2 June - Sri Lanka
Press freedom activist badly beaten in Colombo, hospitalised