Over the last weeks, the indications for a rising monitoring of the internet by the Burmese government have grown stronger. Now, for the first time since the bloody crackdown on the Saffron Revolution a blogger got arrested.
Even before the failed uprising against the junta, in which they played a significant role by spreading news about the demonstrations, Burmese bloggers lived at risk. But since then, posting articles has gotten even harder for them – and in the last weeks, signs of a real chase on the bloggers had grown stronger and stronger. For instance, on January 20 popular blogger Niknayman ((Niknayman)) warned against a crackdown of the junta on the about 2000 bloggers of the southeast Asian dictatorship ((Committee to Protect Bloggers » Urgent message from Burmese blogger)). He informed us about the junta’s attempts to crack critical blogs or set up bogus blogs named nearly the same like popular critics. These fake blogs would, as he reported, lead to porn sites in order to discredit the original authors – the latter had happened with Niknayman’s own blog.
On the other site it has been reported that the junta has stepped up surveillance and monitoring of internet cafes, threatening the owners to maintain strict records of the users. Because many bloggers use internet cafes to publish their posts, this is very dangerous for the Burmese citizen journalists.
Now, Nay Phone Latt ((Nay Phone Latt)) was the first blogger in months to be taken into custody ((Mizzima News » Burmese bloggers hide from police)). He got arrested from an internet cafe in Burma’s former capital Rangoon. Meanwhile, two houses, were he used to live, got raided – as well as his aunt’s residence ((Burmanet News » Blogger arrested by police: friends)). The reasons for the blogger’s detention, who described himself as a “youth who is crazy about the arts” and blogged mainly about the expression of the Burmese youth, remain unclear. However, there is zero tolerance over any critical writings in Burma, victimizing some of the countries best known authors. Having said that, the detailed reasons for Nay Phone Latt’s arresting may not be known, but one can see it symbolicly for the situation of a couple of threatened bloggers.
No wonder it has been reported that parts of the Burmese blogosphere have gone underground. One blogger, who wanted to remain anonymous, has been cited with the words ((Mizzima News » Burmese bloggers hide from police)): “At the moment we [bloggers] are fleeing in the wake of the arrest of Ko Nay Phone Latt.” Angst spreads among the Burmese bloggers, who now fear a crackdown by the government, as the media’s attention has faded months after the days of the revolution. An awe, based on the fact that mainstream media does not report on the suffering country anymore. It’s time for the alternative media the keep an eye on this constant crisis.
Blogger for Freedom is a member of the Blog4Burma Coalition, a group of European bloggers and a native Burmese who joined forces to connect their further writing and support one another in the common goal to keep the topic in the focus of the blogosphere.
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