Voice of America’s Burmese Service is reporting a sharp increase in direct visits to its popular webpage since Burma’s government lifted firewall restrictions in September.
The new data show visits to the VOA site, both from within Burma and from the worldwide Burmese diaspora, jumped to 807,000 in October from 640,000 in August, a 26% increase. The figures do not include visits through so-called proxy servers that Voice of America has used in Burma and elsewhere to overcome government censorship.
Burmese Service Chief Than Lwin Htun says visits to VOA Burmese language social media sites, including Youtube and Twitter, have also increased. “People in Burma look to VOA to provide balanced and comprehensive coverage of events there and around the world, and the recent lifting of media restrictions will improve our ability to communicate directly with the Burmese people,” Lwin says.
Voice of America’s Burmese Service has provided extensive coverage of the latest developments in Burma, including President Barak Obama’s Friday announcement from Bali that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit Burma in December, the first visit by a U.S. Secretary of State in more than 50 years. Mr. Obama cited what he called, “flickers of progress” from the Burmese government, which ended decades of military rule in March.
Saturday, VOA Burmese TV carried comments from Burmese President Thein Sein, who spoke with VOA and other reporters at the East Asia summit in Bali. Earlier this month VOA had an exclusive interview with Burmese Foreign Minister U Wunna Maung Lwin.
Burmese opposition leader and Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who ended her boycott of the country’s political system on Friday, has been a regular contributor to a VOA radio program, answering listener questions on a broad range of political, social, and economic issues.