Burma Bans Journalist Bertil Lintner In A further Show Of Defiance

Burma barred entry on Sunday to author
and journalist Bertil Lintner, based in Thailand,
who had been invited to accompany a Swedish government delegation on a visit to
Rangoon and the
Burmese capital, Naypyidaw, writes Edward Loxton for The First Post.
    Lintner,
correspondent for the Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet, was one of three
journalists invited by the Swedish government to join a delegation headed by
Minister for International Development Cooperation Gunilla Carlsson.
    Lintner
traveled on Saturday from his base in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, to join the delegation in Bangkok. The delegation
told him yesterday his name had been struck from its list by the Burmese
authorities, who gave no explanation.
    Lintner,
former Southeast Asia correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic Review, has
written six books on Burma,
beginning with the critically-acclaimed Land
of Jade, an account of a journey by
foot across northern Burma,
from India to China.
He has presided over conferences on Burma
in Asia, Europe, the United States
and Australia,
and is regarded as one of the leading world authorities on the country.
    The ban on
his entry to Burma
is regarded in journalistic and diplomatic circles as a further show of
defiance by the Burmese regime in the face of mounting international anger and
disgust at its policies, particularly during the current humanitarian crisis.
    Last
Wednesday, another leading Thailand-based author and journalist, Andrew
Marshall, a British citizen, was deported from Burma with his American
photographer. They were questioned by Burmese military security for several
hours before being put aboard a plane for Bangkok.
Earlier this month, a BBC correspondent was also refused entry to Burma at Rangoon
airport.
    The banning
of the journalists does little to encourage those who are waiting anxiously to
see whether the Burmese junta sticks to its promise – made to UN
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last Thursday – to allow access to foreign aid
workers. Donor nations agreed at the weekend to pledge £25m in aid to victims
of Cyclone Nargis, but many nations said their donations depended on the
Burmese letting aid workers into the Irrawaddy
delta disaster area. The UN believes only a quarter of those people who need
aid – up to 2.5m people – have so far received anything.
    Talking to
The First Post, Lintner said: “This all goes to show the reality behind
the Burmese junta’s promises to become more open to the international
community.
They’re just empty promises”.

 

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