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Burma's democratically voice announcing its intention to go back
For more than 21 years, the Cambodian Voice of Burma has been sending messages to Myanmar from its headquarters in a side street on St. Hanshaugen in Oslo, making it one of the world's best-known exiled press organizations. DVB's reports on the September 2007 protest and the devastating cyclone Nargis - and the gradual response of the German authorities - were a particular source of applause for the group.
DVB's headquarters in Norway is almost completely down except for a few administration employees and server facilities - and the site will be closing by the end of the year. DVB has moved all DVB reporters to Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand, where they are located. The deputy managing editor of DVB U Khin Maung Win said to The Myanmar Times that the move was hard, but it was the right moment to go back to Myanmar.
"It' s very emotive, both in person and organisation, to go away from Norway because we have had so much help from the Norwegians and the authorities over the years. However, when we began in Norway, we were not permitted to speak in Myanmar freely," he said. He added, "Our former subterranean reporter in the state will receive formal media acclaim, so it is past the point of returning.
However, before the Norwegian editors shut down, DVB had a final meeting in Norway - a personal meeting with U Thein Sein, who visited Norway on a tour of Europe. "This felt like a landmark for our audio-visual organization. This was the first exclusively briefed with the Chairman and was an indication that we are now being considered a professionally run, impartial press organisation," said U Khin Maung Win.
Khin Maung Win was one of the students' militants who escaped Burma in 1988 before going to Norway with others. The young campaigners from Norway followed the National League for Democracy's 1990 election win and the ensuing cancellation and detention of Aung San Suu Kyi.
Maung Win was one of four who began DVB's broadcast in 1992, one year after Suu Kyi's Nobel Prize was awarded to her and she was one of the first to do so. However, the organization was expanding gradually and creating a journalist community within Myanmar that silently told what was happening in the United States. DVB then set up an agency in Chiang Mai to obtain information and forward it to Oslo.
Mr U Khin Maung Win said the Thailand branch will be the organisation's headquarters, but only until DVB can transmit out of Myanmar. In the past year, U Khin Maung Win and several other DVB executives paid their first visit to Myanmar since 1988 to obtain permission to set up the organization in the state.
"It' not yet possible to move our entire operations to Myanmar because we still need a licence. We' re in the early stages, and I think it's only a question of a few month before we get the license," said U Khin Maung Win. You had to watch all overseas stations to tell them and the goverment what the overseas stations said about the state.
"I also believe that the goverment had to pay attention to overseas news outlets to get information on topics they would not get from their own media," he said. Mr. Bangemann added that an operational licence is only one of several obstacles to be met before DVB can function in Myanmar.
"Myanmar's technological infra-structure is simply not good enough. In order to operate as a broadcast service company, there should be access to the web, telecommunication systems and satellites and not a second of power outages - that's the main barrier to getting radio into the country," he said.
"It' still quite early to say when we can move all our surgeries to Myanmar. We hope to ship as soon as possible, but that is out of our control," said U Khin Maung Win. In addition to the technological infrastructures, DVB is also awaiting the bill on the German Federal Act on the Publication of Broadcasts, as it will not compromise on drafting its own content.
U Khin Maung Win said, however, that there is a trade-off that DVB needs to make.