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DVB Video Reveals Burma’s Nuke Ambitions June 10, 2010

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Civic Media, Journalism, News, Social Media, Web Video.
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An investigative documentary produced by Norwegian-based news group, The Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) offers groundbreaking information that shows Burma’s authorities have started a program to build nuclear weapons. Now posted on the Web, the documentary for the first time provides proof Burma has been pursuing a nuclear program.

Burma’s Nuclear Ambitions from DVBTV English on Vimeo.

The film shows the nature of the junta’s intent through a combination of photographs taken from the military’s top secret files, expert analysis and witness accounts collected by DVB over five years. It reveals the junta is trying to develop long-range missiles and dig a series of military bunkers. Experts doubt Burma is near to achieving its nuclear goals, but caution the intent to acquire nuclear weapons should not be dismissed.

The investigation by DVB is centered around Sai Thein Win, a former defense engineer who worked in factories in Burma where he was tasked to make prototype components for missile and nuclear programs. Sai contacted DVB after learning of its investigation into Burma’s military programmes, and supplied documents and photographs of equipment built inside the factories.

Elections later this year are aimed at convincing the world that Burma is moving towards democracy, but in reality, fearing attack from the United States and an uprising by their own people, Burma is trying to become the next nuclear-armed North Korea.

Burma’s Nuclear Ambitions

Directed by Evan Williams, ‘Burma’s Nuclear Ambitions’ was broadcast on Al-Jazeera in June 2010. After the screening, Burmese authorities announced a reward of USD5000 for anyone who can name DVB journalists who work in Burma.

DVB’s network of video journalists in Burma filmed most of the material in the film ’Burma VJ’, which received an Oscar nomination for best documentary in 2010. They also produced film material for ’Orphans of Burma’s Cyclone’, directed by Williams. Two DVB video journalists received Rory Peck Awards in 2009 for the coverage.


Burma: Blogs Track Nargis Aftermath June 2, 2008

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Civic Media, Journalism, News, Social Media.
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The cyclone that hit Burma on 2 May succeeded where the junta failed last September in destroying phone and Web access out of the South East Asian country. But this has not stopped Burmese exiles and people in Burma from posting information and stories to the Web.

First-hand accounts of the devastation continue to trickle out of Burma weeks after the disaster. Despite efforts by the ever-watchful military authorities to suppress reports on the aftermath of the cyclone, many blogs and news sites have now emerged to track the devastation.

These sites have been quick to react by posting vivid eyewitness accounts of the disaster and mobilising fundraising efforts. The Mizzima news site, based in India and run by Burmese exiles has been carrying interviews with survivors who tell harrowing tales of life after the storm.

Eyewitness reports are available on exile Burmese news sites such as Yoma3 and blogs by the Burmese diaspora such as Fear from Freedom and the US-based Golden Colour Revolution, run by Ko Moe Thee, a well-known student leader from the 1988 uprising.

The Irrawwady keeps the spotlight on the humanitarian crisis with extensive coverage. Its daily updates have attracted record numbers of readers to the site, which received more than 60 million hits in May.

Oslo-based Democratic Voice of Burma is a non-profit media organization run by Burmese expatriates. It makes radio and TV broadcasts aimed at providing uncensored news and information about Burma.

The Moegyo Humanitarian Foundation blog by a group of Burmese expatriates is documenting efforts to track the situation and to organise aid.

Check out Ko Htike’s Prosaic Collection which is in Burmese, or The Rule of Lords which posts regular translations of the most compelling stories from Burmese news sites.

Within Burma, blogs such as The New Era Journal and those by people such as Dr Lun Swe, and Nyi Lynn Seck and have been giving updates in Burmese from the disaster zone.

Areas affected by cyclone Nargis

Rubble of temple hit by Nargis

Rubble of temple hit by Nargis

Survivors of Nargis queue for aid

Survivors of Nargis rush for aid

Related sites:
Online Burma Library
BBC Burmese Service
Asian Human Rights Commission – Nargis page
Relief Web – Nargis page
Red Cross Red Crescent – Nargis photo gallery
Burmese Government website

Burma: Freedom Fight Shifts Online November 4, 2007

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Civic Media, Convergence, Social Media, Trends, Web Video.
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Avaaz.org a community of global citizens acting on the major issues facing the world, is running an online petition for Burma on its site. The group has sent tens of thousands of messages to foreign ministers in Europe and Asia, raised funds for Burmese groups and run a global ad campaign.

Now it wants to grow the petition to a million names and deliver it formally to the Security Council itself, to push them to go further and mediate talks in Burma. Over 820,000 supporters have signed up. You can sign the petition here.

Burma: International Bloggers’ Day October 4, 2007

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Journalism, News, Social Media, Web Video.
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With a rising death toll estimated in the hundreds, and arrests mounting by the day, anyone outside Burma is virtually in the dark as to how the situation is now unfolding. International bloggers today show support for the peaceful revolution in Burma, by placing on their blogs banner like this. Organiser, Free-Burma.org is a brand-new site out of Germany and now in seven languages. Organizer Philipp Hausser said social media tools like Wiki, Digg, Facebook, Flickr, are also used in spreading awareness.


Burma: Junta Tighten Web Access September 27, 2007

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Journalism, News, Web Video, YouTube.
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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.

Burma: The Whole Web is Watching September 26, 2007

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Convergence, Journalism, News, Web Video, YouTube.
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The Burmese uprising is defining citizen journalism in Asia as the military junta face the biggest challenge to their rule in two decades. The outcome is unclear in the battle of wills between Burma’s two most powerful institutions, the military and the monk-hood. But one of the world’s most repressive regimes of Internet control now confronts global ramifications of a violent crackdown at a time when the country’s communication links to the outside world are stronger than ever before.

Besides the coverage of “old media” like Reuters, Agence France-Presse and Associated Press – hundreds of Burmese bloggers are using the Web to evade censors, and tell the world what is happening under the junta’s veil of secrecy. An army of young tech-savvy witnesses work around the clock to circumvent the censors, posting pictures and videos on blogs with blow-by-blow accounts of events on the ground almost as soon as the protests happen.

Burmese-born blogger Ko Htike, based in London, has transformed his blog into a virtual news agency. Ko Htike publishes pictures, video and information sent to him by a network of underground contacts within Burma. He told BBC News that his contacts are among the Buddhist monks taking part in the current protests. As soon as they get any images or news they pop into Internet cafes and send them to him.

Monks marching along flooded streets in Rangoon, September 21, 2007. Picture from Mizzima News


Pictures taken by people inside Burma, emailed to BBC News.

Elsewhere on the Web, people inside Burma have been e-mailing global news Websites like BBC News and sending pictures showing the protests. Dissident blogs such as nicknayman has been banned, but a clone of this site has resurfaced.

A prolific blogger calling himself Moezack is now wanted by the junta for slipping through their security net and posting photographs of monks marching through Rangoon on the Web. His blog disappeared today after just one day of posting images of the monks’ protests.

Other sites like Irrawaddy, Zin Media and Mizzima News, a news group run by exiled dissidents in India, provide up-to-the-minute coverage. Activists are even using Facebook, the social networking site, to air news and mobilise support. A blog on Guardian Unlimited is serving as a reference point for Burmese bloggers. On Flickr, individuals say they are live-blogging the protest here, here and here.

The use of the Internet as a political tool is the key difference between the latest protests and the 1988 uprising, which was brutally repressed. Shooting peaceful demonstrators in the full-glare of YouTube is no longer something that even Burma’s allies can condone.

Bloggers are using proxy websites, Google and YouTube to post accounts and videos of street skirmishes captured by citizen witnesses. Reporters Without Borders says its handbook for cyber-dissidents provided to young Burmese was seized upon, copied and disseminated among a growing group of the young, politically active and computer-literate.


Burmese bloggers are teaching others to use foreign-hosted proxy sites – such as your.freedom.net and glite.sayni.net – to view blocked sites and tip-toe virtually unseen through cyberspace, swapping tricks and links on their pages. Analysts say although Web access is currently at less than 1% of the population, the junta underestimated its potential.

The junta has cut off the mobile phones of prominent opposition activists and of some journalists with the foreign media. It even bars access to web-based email. But bloggers represent a parallel network that is proving difficult to close. They have managed to broadcast news even though almost every website that carries information about the country is blocked.

In 1968, demonstrators on the streets of Chicago chanted “The whole world is watching!” as TV cameras beamed images of police cracking heads into homes everywhere. Four decades later, the whole world and the Web are watching Burma, to see if the power of principled protest is greater than the power which would unleash the fist. The whole Web is watching.

23 FEB 2008
The Web played a significant role in keeping the Burmese government accountable for its actions, noted the Internet & Democracy group based at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School:

“When we compare cases where the Internet has played a significant role in democratic struggles (such as the Orange Revolution in Ukraine) and the case of Burma where the use of Internet for internal political mobilization is severely limited, we may be inclined to conclude that the Internet in Burma has largely been unsuccessful to bring about significant change towards democracy.

While this observation may largely be correct, this conclusion has the danger of overlooking one fundamental aspect of the fight towards democracy – one of holding governments accountable, no matter what kind of a government it is, democratic or autocratic…”

INTERNET & DEMOCRACY blogpost, “An Overlooked Dimension of Internet and Democracy?

One Free Korea
Internet Filtering in Burma 2005
Blogs on Burma
The brave citizen journalists of Burma
Witness resources and links on Burma human rights issues

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