Burma regime tells Swedish media to leave

Several Swedish and Danish news media outlets said on Monday they had been contacted by Burmese regime officials urging them to withdraw their reporters from the country for their own safety.

Swedish tabloid Expressen and television channel TV4’s news website as well as Danish daily newspaper Politiken said they had been contacted on Saturday by a man who introduced himself as a representative of Burma’s police authority.

Expressen said on its website that the man, who identified himself as Hay Chu, offered to provide the tabloid’s journalist “safe passage home” since police “can no longer guarantee the safety of foreigners.”

TV4’s news website and Politiken said the telephone calls they received were of a similar nature.

In each case the man referred to the journalist who had written reports on Burma by his or name.

However, neither Expressen, nor Politiken nor TV4’s news website have journalists inside Burma – the journalists reporting on the recent massive anti-regime protests in the troubled Asian country are all stationed elsewhere.

Last week the Burmese regime unleashed a four-day military crackdown to stop the biggest anti-government demonstrations in 20 years, which left at least 13 dead and hundreds arrested.

Among the dead was a Japanese reporter who was shot at close range, Japanese television footage showed.

The flow of information in and out of Burma was squeezed last Friday when the nation’s main internet link went down and several newspapers, already under the tight grip of authorities, stopped publishing.

When Expressen asked Hay Chu about the situation in Burma, he replied that it was “fine” – even though he insisted that Expressen’s journalist should leave the country.

“We have had a few criminals who have protested against a local tax change, but after a few days some of them attacked civilians and the police had to protect the civilians,” Expressen quoted him as saying in comments translated into Swedish.