Burma bans top Western journalist, deports another


The Burmese regime on Sunday banned the prominent Swedish author and journalist Bertil Lintner from accompanying a Swedish government delegation to Rangoon.

Lintner, author of six books on Burma and a leading authority on the country, had been invited by the Stockholm government to join two other Swedish journalists on a two-day visit to Rangoon, and possibly Naypyidaw, in a delegation led by Minister of International Development Cooperation Gunilla Carlsson.

Carlsson and her delegation attended Sunday’s international aid conference in Rangoon.

Lintner is correspondent in Southeast Asia for the Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet and also writes for other publications, including The Irrawaddy. He frequently presides over conferences on Burma in the US, Europe, Asia and Australia.

One day before he was due to join the Stockholm delegation in Bangkok for the flight to Rangoon he was told his name had been struck from the list of participants by the Burmese authorities. No reason was given—“But it didn’t really surprise me,” said Lintner, an outspoken critic of the Burmese regime and its repressive policies.

Lintner said he was told by Burmese diplomats about 20 years ago that he had been put on the country’s black list of unwanted foreigners following the publication of his books “Land of Jade,” an account of a trek of more than 2,000 kilometers through northern Burma, and “Outrage: Burma’s Struggle for Democracy,” a blistering account of the military regime’s brutal rule,

Last Wednesday, another leading journalist and authority on Burma, Britain’s Andrew Marshall, was deported from Rangoon, together with his American photographer. Both underwent several hours of interrogation before being put aboard a flight to Bangkok.

“This is the reality behind the regime’s promises to become more open to the international community,” said Lintner. “They’re just empty promises.”