Freedom of speech – using your voice online in Myanmar

With the introduction of cheap smart phones, internet access is rapidly spreading throughout Myanmar. However, after many years of severely curtailed individual expression, freedom of speech online in the country is still restricted, with a number of arrests for defamation online taking place in the last year. Prospect Burma alumni, including Pwint Htun, are at the forefront of IT developments.

Five people were detained for at least six months each under the 2013 Telecommunications Law in reprisal for online speech criticising military or government officials. 

Nowai Linn was born in 1992 in Namgsan Township, Shan State in Northern Myanmar. She is of Ta’ang (Palaung) ethnicity, a group that has experienced ongoing human rights violations including widespread land confiscation.

She completed a Master’s degree in Communications Arts from Bangkok University this year with support from Prospect Burma. Following graduation, Nowai returned to Myanmar and told us of her ambitious plans for the future.

“I am dedicated to developing communication in promoting public awareness campaign, entertainment-education projects, and advocacy strategies….I am determined to take my role as a communication specialist, with a focus on every aspect of community development on Myanmar’s road to democracy, in which I believe vertical and horizontal communication in politics, media and civic are called for in community building and civic engagement.

My ultimate goal is for a civilised society where everyone’s voice matters, yet express a collective national identity.”