Burma: Junta Tighten Web Access September 27, 2007Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Journalism, News, Web Video, YouTube.
Tags: , Bloggers, Burma, Junta, Myanmar
The military junta in Burma is reported to be attempting to shut down all internet access in the country to stop the flow of information on the Web about the chaos taking place on the streets. But word is still spilling out as citizen reporters fight back with satellite telephones, which can bypass censors, firewalls and other restrictions.
Cyber cafes have been closed and some mobile phone networks have been shut down, which has substantially cut the flow of information from Burma. However, blogs and pictures regarding the upheaval have gotten through, the footage sometimes transmitted one frame at a time by mobile phones.
It is amazing how the Burmese are able through underground networks to get things from outside and inside. Before, they were moving things hand-to-hand and now they are using the Internet.
VINCENT BRUSSELS, Head, Asian Section, Reporters Without Borders
in Oslo, a shoestring radio and TV network called the Democratic Voice of Burma has been at the forefront of receiving and broadcasting such cyber dispatches by satellite TV and shortwave radio. Founded in 1992 by exiled Myanmar students, the station is passing on nearly real-time images and information about anti-government protests – unlike in 1988.
Editors of these outfits do not want to reveal much about how undercover reporters inside Burma get news out. Journalists working openly could be arrested. Mobile phones are essential to people providing images from the ground.
The junta took the offensive today in the battle to control the flow of information by blocking popular blogs http://www.kohtike.blogspot.com, http://niknayman.blogspot.com and http://soneseyar.blogspot.com which continuously posted news and photographs of ongoing protests.
In a sign that the junta is afraid of foreign radio and satellite TV coverage, state-run media has begun blaming foreign media such as the BBC and Voice of America, for inciting the trouble. The official English-language television station, MRTV-3, has said people are being intimidated into joining the protests.
Telephone lines and mobile phone signals to monasteries, opposition politicians and student leaders have been cut to impede the uploading of pictures to be picked up by international satellite news channels and beamed around the world, including back to Burma.
BBC News reports that as the measures begin to bite, fewer pictures and video have been sent in directly from people inside Burma. It has a guide for its User Generated Content hub on making use of Web-based material from Burma:
Contributors are advised to record a short eye witness report on their mobile phone and then email BBC the MP3 file. This is an alternative to trying to get people on the phones – as all phone lines appear to be down.
A number of Facebook groups have been set up, where people are trying to share information. They are encouraging people to send the BBC any content they have. BBC has also been speaking to people who have been uploading Youtube videos.
Citizen journalists in Burma have demonstrated that the exclusion of professional reporters no longer cuts of the flow of news. Some people are circumventing the firewalls by uploading pictures directly to data hosting sites, which are harder to trace. Communication inside the country is also important. Activists use cell phones to SMS each other to set up demonstrations or tell each other where soldiers are.