Propaganda newspapers

Propaganda newspapers are the funniest. I think Burma is notorious for its xenophobic, anti-American, and jingoistic newspapers. It publishes quotes that Than Shwe, the country’s dictator on its frontpage. Today’s headline in the daily New Light of Myanmar, boxed with flowery borders and a portrait of Than Shwe on the side, is ironically titled “Freedom”:

Independence message

If people do not pay attention to freedom, other countries will take over, independence will be lost. If you try to regain freedom, sacrifices in life, blood, sweat are required to regain it.
– State Peace and Development Council Chairman and Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief Senior General Than Shwe
(Excerpt from a speech made for the Union Solidarity and Development Association)

My translation is far from perfect, but it sums up a lot about the military junta. It ironically calls for “freedom” from “oppressors” (indirectly referring to the U.S.), while its people are not free themselves. It calls for a democratic transition that it accuses is being hindered by “subversive groups” like the National League for Democracy. New Light of Myanmar has daily articles precisely listing the people (and where they live) who have resigned from the National League for Democracy. Its “privately-owned” (owned by military officials) sister newspaper, the Myanmar Times vaguely wrote

A SPECIAL envoy of United Nations Secretary General Mr Kofi Annan arrived in Yangon on November 9 for a four-day visit aimed at promoting cooperation between Myanmar and the world body.
– “UN envoy assesses key issues in Myanmar”, Thet Khaing

Every person I know in Burma knows how to distinguish propaganda from truth. Last time I went, I brought a luggage filled with all the issues of TIME from 2005-2006 for relatives and friends to read. It’s amazing what bribes at the airport can do. Too bad government officials (civil servants, airport workers, police) are too keen on receiving them.


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