Agam's Gecko
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
NLM photo
A photo which ran in Burma's New Light of Myanmar last week.

t isn't just Reuters that gets photo captions wrong. Although in the case of Burma's military mouthpiece, New Light of Myanmar, this caption flub might have a deeper meaning.

As readers will notice, this photo was published in NLM on 10 October, purported to be of an "anti-Iraq demonstration" in London on 8 October. While the visible large-lettered placards are obscured, it's clear to read the small one in center frame. "Support the monks. Free Burma." And a peacock (freedom) symbol at the bottom. One can also make out the words "Burma" and UK" on the folded sign at left, which leads me to think they were produced by The Burma Campaign UK. So the caption, "Police try to prevent protesters from pulling down a fence in Parliament Square during an anti-Iraq demonstration in London on 8 Oct, 2007 - Internet," is clearly bogus. Wai Myanmar Media, Education & Development Watch (a slightly larger image is available there).

There is speculation among Burmese exiles that the choice of photo was not a mistake. It's possible an editor at NLM may have wished to express support for the freedom movement in choosing this photo.

Myanmar State Television was quick to latch onto anti-Iraq war protests last month in D.C. while the crackdown in Rangoon was still in the shooting stages. In its broadcasts, as well as in NLM, Washington was castigated as hypocritical for decrying their tactics, while anti-war protesters had recently been arrested too (for forcing their way past police and into secure areas of the Capitol, which the Myanmar mouthpieces failed to mention).

An MRTV broadcast a few nights ago also aired a CNN piece about the woman who was arrested while hysterical at a US airport, and subsequently died. The implication being that America is no better than the glorious tyrants of Burma.

I have a hard time believing that an editor of an English language newspaper would make such a mistake "accidentally." Would someone whose job is to communicate in English, be unable to read the sign in the photo? When I first found this I thought, "Well, they're just rather dumb." But I don't think so. Everything printed in Burma must pass the military censors. More likely, an editor wanted to get the photo in, and the censor was too dumb  to notice (or couldn't read English).

It's only in little things like this, that one might see the chinks in the monolithic armour of enforced one-party thought, in a totalitarian state like Burma.


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