Journalists operating inside Burma are filing a steady stream of exclusive video and audio reports for Voice of America’s (VOA) Burmese Service on the trial of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Despite significant newsgathering challenges, the reporters are providing video footage, photographs and first-hand accounts of the latest developments surrounding the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest for 13 of the last 19 years. Stories have included interviews with supporters of Suu Kyi, and video showing tight security at the site of the trial.
Suu Kyi faces charges she broke the terms of her house arrest by allowing an American visitor, John Yettaw, to stay at her home after he swam, uninvited, across a lake to reach her home.
Although the Burmese government has banned the press for all but one of the five days since the trial began, VOA has used a variety of means, such as satellite uplinks, internet circuitry and cellphones, to circumvent the government’s efforts.
“Our role in providing accurate news and information is especially critical at a time like this,” explained Than Lwin Htun, head of VOA’s Burmese Service.
“Many unreliable sources of information are seizing this opportunity to spread rumors and disinformation through blogs and email communications,” he said. “When the audience tunes in to VOA broadcasts, they are hearing the facts without any of the sensationalism that is commonplace now that the trial is under way.”
VOA Burmese broadcasts 3.5 hours of radio programming a week on shortwave and AM frequencies. It also produces a 30-minute weekly TV program, distributed by satellite. These broadcasts as well as other special features are also available on its website, www.VOANews.com/Burmese. More than 21% of the adult population in Burma tunes in to VOA broadcasts on a weekly basis.