Burma Censors Obama Speech

Burmese authorities made several cuts to U.S. President Barack Obama's inauguration speech, in particular the sections dealing with authoritarian regimes.

2009-01-29
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newspapaer-305.jpg Newsstand in Burma, 2008.
RFA/Tyler Chapman

BANGKOK--China was not alone in its surgical approach to censoring President Obama's inaugural speech.

The overseas Burmese Web site Irrawaddy has quoted journalists in Rangoon as saying the country's junta censored parts of the speech containing political messages.

Burmese censors acted under instructions from the Ministry of Information, Irrawaddy quoted sources in the Burmese media as saying.

The censorship board did not permit the publishing of articles related to Obama's speech in weekly journals including The Yangon Times and True News, it said.

One section of the speech which ran, "To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist," was cut.

The same words were cut by censors in China.

The censored sections circulated on Burmese online news sites and in forums overseas, the Irrawaddy Web site said. And many people inside Burma were able to watch live television coverage of Obama's inauguration via satellite.

The censorship board had previously said little about the U.S. presidential campaign. Self-censorship is common in Burma, and newspapers and journals have been careful not to focus too much on the United States, whose ties with the military regime are strained.

But Senior Burmese general Than Shwe "sent a message of congratulations to the Honourable Barack Hussein Obama, on the occasion of his inauguration" as president, the official New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported.

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