HRW: Gov’t Blocks Press Scrutiny of Burma

The Cambodian government is shielding Burma’s military rulers from press scrutiny by illegally banning the recently-launched newspaper insert The Burma Daily, the international rights group Human Rights Watch said May 23.

The newspaper’s seizure continued a trend of official suppression of politically contentious content in the Cambodian media, Rights Watch said in a statement.

Launched on May 16, The Bur­ma Daily was originally published as a supplement to The Cambodia Daily however it was seized by police starting May 19.

The Burma Daily is now exclusively available for download at www.burmadaily.org, a decision publisher Bernard Krisher has said is unrelated to the ban on the print version by Cambodian authorities.

“Cambodia’s press censorship on behalf of Burma’s abusive military government is shameless,” Right Watch’s Asia Director Brad Adams said in the statement.

The statement followed condemnations of the ban by the Cambo­dian Center for Human Rights and the Cambodian Association for the Protection of Journalists.

Information Minister and government spokesman Khieu Kanharith did not respond to requests for comment Friday however he said this week the publication is both distinct from The Cambodia Daily and therefore unlicensed and also a threat to bilateral ties with Burma.

The 1995 Press Law does refer to the need to protect foreign relations but does not specify penalties for harming them.

“While publications that do not file applications with the Infor­mation Ministry are subject to fines, the Press Law does not specify that such publications are illegal or subject to confiscation,” Rights Watch noted in their statement.

Khieu Kola, a member of the board of directors of the Club of Cambodian Journalists, said Friday he saw little reason for the Cam­bodian government to complain about The Burma Daily.

“I have not seen any articles that criticize the government,” he said.

“I am going to read The Burma Daily, not because of politics but because I want know [about] the victims. Cambodia suffered under the Pol Pot regime,” he added.

 

 

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