TIME China

See China’s Internet Dilemma in One Screen Grab

Can the country really hope for entrepreneurial innovation while restricting Internet access?

Chinese state media today announced a plan to lure more “entrepreneurial” expatriates to China. The goal is to get people into startups and promote innovation, according to a site-leading story Wednesday on the English-language edition of the China Daily.

Running just below that article, though, was a piece headlined “VPN Providers Must Obey Rules.” VPN (virtual private network) providers are the companies that help people jump over China’s Great Firewall. In recent weeks, the government has targeted several such firms, slowing or stopping their services altogether.

The thing is, the “innovative” foreign entrepreneurs China seeks will almost certainly want unfettered access to the Internet. You know, crazy stuff like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube (all of which are banned in China). What’s a startup-loving Communist Party official to do?

TIME China

Agent Carter, Empire Gone From Chinese Streaming Sites

Atwell as Peggy Carter in Agent Carter. Kelsey McNeal/ABC

A crackdown on foreign media appears to have taken its toll

More U.S. television shows were removed from Chinese streaming services in what appears to be the latest consequences of the state censor’s crackdown on foreign series.

Shows like Agent Carter, Empire, and Shameless disappeared from multiple streaming portals this week, the L.A. Times reports.

Amid a campaign by the government of President Xi Jinping to sanitize the Internet in China, the country’s state censor, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, said last year that foreign shows — which have soared in popularity in China — would require government approval for the entire series before episodes aired online. Foreign series, the regulator also said, could only account for one third of programming on the online streaming sites, according to the Times.

Since then, shows like The Big Bang Theory have been pulled from streaming sites, typically without explanation.

Despite the rancor on social media after the latest purge, it remained unclear why the specific shows were removed, according to the Times.

[LA Times]

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: January 9

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Low oil prices change the math on the Keystone XL pipeline, but politics are still controlling the debate.

By Michael A. Levi at the Council on Foreign Relations

2. Terrorists are despicable, but they aren’t irrational. The Charlie Hebdo attackers were demanding censorship. The world shouldn’t give in.

By Stephen L. Carter in Bloomberg View

3. ‘Uber for freelance work’ could have a huge impact on careers for the next generation.

By the Economist

4. Making community college free could trigger a new wave of economic growth and help improve access to education.

By Josh Wyner in Time

5. People who learn skills two or three at a time are much better at multitasking than people combining skills on the fly.

By Walter Frick in Harvard Business Review

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME foreign affairs

Blasphemy Is at the Front Lines of Free Speech Today

French police officers and forensic experts examine the car used by armed gunmen who stormed the Paris offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7, 2015 in Paris.
French police officers and forensic experts examine the car used by armed gunmen who stormed the Paris offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7, 2015 in Paris. Domique Faget—AFP/Getty Images

Walter Olson is a senior fellow with the Cato Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies.

There is no middle ground, no soft compromise available to keep everyone happy

If you defend freedom of speech today, realize that “blasphemy” is its front line, in Paris and the world.

There is no middle ground, no soft compromise available to keep everyone happy–not after the murders at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Either we resolve to defend the liberty of all who write, draw, type, and think–not just even when they deny the truth of a religion or poke fun at it, but especially then–or that liberty will endure only at the sufferance of fanatical Islamists in our midst. And this dark moment for the cause of intellectual freedom will be followed by many more.

Can anyone who has paid attention truly say they were surprised by the Paris attack? The French satirical magazine had long been high on a list of presumed Islamist targets. In 2011—to world outrage that was transient, at best—fanatics firebombed its offices over its printing of cartoons. Nor was that anything new. In 2006, the Danish cartoonists of Jyllands-Posten had to go into hiding for the same category of offense, as had author Salman Rushdie before them.

In a new book entitled The Tyranny of Silence: How One Cartoon Ignited a Global Debate on the Future of Free Speech, journalist Flemming Rose, who was at the center of the Danish cartoon controversy, traces its grim aftermath in the self-silencing of Western opinion. Most of the prestige Western press dodged the running of the cartoons, and beneath the talk of sensitivity was often simple fear. As journalist Josh Barro noted today on Twitter, “Islamists have by and large succeeded in intimidating western media out of publishing images of Muhammad.”

That fear has been felt in the United States as well. Yale’s university press, in publishing a book on the Muhammad cartoons controversy, chose to omit printing the cartoons themselves, on the grounds that doing so “ran a serious risk of instigating violence.” (The late Christopher Hitchens brilliantly assailed the press for its lack of courage.)

As for elected leaders, they were hardly better. The French government repeatedly pressured Charlie Hebdo not to go so far in giving offense. The government of Jacques Chirac stood by at, or by some accounts even encouraged, a court action aimed at fining the magazine for having offended some Muslims. Then-British foreign minister Jack Straw, representing the nation that gave the world John Milton and John Stuart Mill, blasted re-publication of the cartoons as “insensitive” and “disrespectful.” And if you imagine the leaders of the United States did much better, here’s another Christopher Hitchens column on how mealy-mouthed they were at the time in the cause of the intellectual liberty that is supposed to be among America’s proudest guarantees.

The danger is not that there will be too little outpouring of solidarity, grief, and outrage in coming days. Of course there will be that. Demonstrations are already underway across France. The danger comes afterward, once the story passes and intellectuals and those who discuss and distribute their work decide how and whether to adjust themselves to a more intense climate of fear. At media outlets, among conference planners, at universities, there will be certain lawyers and risk managers and compliance experts and insurance buyers ready to advise the safer course, the course of silence.

And then there are the lawmakers. After years in which blasphemy laws were assumed to be a relic of the past, laws accomplishing much of the same effect are once again on the march in Europe, banning “defamation of religion,” insult to religious beliefs, or overly vigorous criticism of other people’s religions when defined as “hate speech.” This must go no further. One way we can honor Charb, Cabu, Wolinski, Tignous, and the others who were killed Wednesday is by lifting legal constraints on what their successors tomorrow can draw and write.

Walter Olson is a senior fellow with the Cato Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME China

Shanghai Authorities Try to Stifle Criticism After New Year’s Eve Stampede

Policemen stand in formation as they guard on the bund where people were killed in a stampede incident during a new year's celebration, in Shanghai
Policemen stand in formation as they guard on the bund where people were killed in a stampede incident during a new year's celebration, in Shanghai on Jan. 3, 2015. China Stringer Network/Reuters

Critics are being interrogated and families harassed

Shanghai authorities are seeking to control discussion of the New Year’s Eve stampede that caused the deaths of 36 people and raised questions about the ability of police to manage large-scale events in the world’s most populous nation.

Relatives of those asphyxiated and trampled to death during Dec. 31 celebrations say they are being closely monitored by authorities for what they say, and to whom, about the disaster, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reports.

Family members of the victims also say that authorities are preventing them from taking home the bodies of their loved ones.

Local reporters have been barred from speaking with family members of the deceased, as well as from running non-government-approved photos, especially photos that depict people grieving, the Financial Times (FT) reports.

Chinese censors are also going after online commentators who blame the Shanghai government and police for the disaster, deleting the posts, tracking down the writers and summoning them for interrogation.

The crackdown comes as the public seeks answers into what went wrong on what was supposed to be a night of merrymaking at the Bund, the historic riverfront area that looks across the water to the city’s financial district.

As Chinese President Xi Jinping on New Year’s Day called for an investigation into the disaster, state-run media also carried stinging criticism of Shanghai authorities for the holiday tragedy, whose victims included one 12-year-old boy but were mostly women in their early 20s.

The President demanded that lessons be learned before the city staged some of the nation’s largest celebrations during Lunar New Year festivities next month.

“It was a lack of vigilance from the government, a sloppiness,” said state news agency Xinhua, in an editorial (according to a Reuters translation). The news agency continued to say in an English-language editorial that the tragedy was a “wake-up call,” underscoring China’s status as “a developing country which has fragile social management.”

But despite the central government’s pledges of an investigation — as well as the state-run media’s flagellation of Shanghai authorities — locals say they are encountering intimidation from local officials as they seek answers to the many questions the stampede raised: Why, if the annual laser-light show at the Bund was canceled for safety reasons this New Year’s Eve, were hundreds of thousands of revelers allowed to show up regardless? And, could police have done more before and at the critical moment, around 11:30 p.m., when congestion turned lethal on a set of stairs?

The SCMP, citing an unnamed officer, reports that dozens of people who discussed those questions and others online have been interrogated by Shanghai authorities. The officer described the interrogations as “a warning to those unfriendly Internet users.”

Local media have also been barred from interviewing relatives of the victims or the attendees of memorial services, and have been instructed to downplay the disaster, the FT reports. The homepage for Xinhua’s English website carried no mention of the Shanghai disaster by Monday afternoon local time.

The FT adds that Chinese news outlets have been told remove from their own coverage “all information about attacking the party and government and attacking the social system of our country.”

Access for nonmainland media reporting on the disaster has also been hampered. One SCMP reporter was interrupted several times while trying to conduct interviews with victims’ families by people who identified themselves as hospital volunteers, the Hong Kong–based newspaper says.

One father whose daughter was killed in the stampede, and who rebuked police for poor crowd control, declined to give his name to the Associated Press, citing a “fear of offending the authorities,” as the news agency puts it.

Meanwhile, families of the victims held protests on Sunday outside a municipal building in Shanghai, demanding to take home the bodies of their relatives. It was unclear why the bodies of the 34 Chinese citizens killed in the pandemonium are being held, even after the remains of the two foreigners killed in the disaster, a Malaysian and a Taiwanese, were returned to their home countries.

Under the close scrutiny of police, people laid flowers at the scene of the stampede over the weekend and waited for news on the condition of the 49 people injured in the chaos. Xinhua reports that 24 people have been discharged from the hospital, while 25 are still under medical observation, including seven people with serious injuries and one in critical condition.

TIME China

It Looks Like Gmail Has Been Totally Blocked in China

You're going to need a VPN if you want to access it

Google’s Gmail service is virtually inaccessible in mainland China, the search giant’s own data shows, in what appears to be the latest step in a steady ousting of its services from the nation.

Google’s Transparency Report charts show traffic began to fall in China late on Christmas Day and hit zero before midday on Dec. 26. Internet-analytics group Dyn Research also said Sunday on Twitter that there had been an IP-level block of Gmail access on the Chinese mainland.

Google says in an emailed comment to TIME that “we’ve checked and there’s nothing wrong on our end.”

The stoppage effectively removes the last means of accessing Gmail from behind China’s Great Firewall without recourse to a virtual private network or VPN.

Chinese authorities had blocked access to numerous Google services — including Gmail, but also everything from Google Drive to Google Hangouts — just ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown this June. Since then, Gmail had been accessible in mainland China mainly just through email protocols, including IMAP and POP3, which allow Gmail access through applications like Microsoft Outlook and Apple Mail on iPhone.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters on Monday that she had no information about Gmail disappearing, Reuters reports.

“China has consistently had a welcoming and supportive attitude towards foreign investors doing legitimate business here,” she said. “We will, as always, provide an open, transparent and good environment for foreign companies in China.”

Beijing is well known for carefully curating what its citizens and visitors can and can’t see on the web. As of Monday, Chinese web-censorship watchdog GreatFire.org listed 599 Google sites as blocked in mainland China, and 13,558 out of the 13,612 Google search terms of interest as blocked, including the English phrase waging nonviolence.

TIME Qatar

At Egypt’s Request, Qatar Suspends Al-Jazeera Affiliate in Cairo

Mideast Qatar Egypt Al Jazeera
In this Wednesday Nov. 1, 2006 file photo, A Qatari employee of Al Jazeera Arabic language TV news channel passes by the logo of Al Jazeera in Doha, Qatar. Kamran Jebreili—AP

The channel has been alone domestically in covering the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's beleaguered political party

In a concession to Egyptian authorities, Qatar will stop broadcasting an Al-Jazeera affiliate in Cairo that has criticized Egypt’s military-led government.

In agreeing to the suspension, Qatar is seeking closer ties with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government, which had urged the tiny gulf state to cease its long-time support for Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood — the political party of the ousted president whom Sisi displaced, Mohamed Morsi, Reuters reports. Qatar owns Al-Jazeera, though the international news channel is yet largely seen a free voice in a region severely wanting for free media voices.

The local station, Al Jazeera Live Egypt, was the last major news outlet in Egypt that was willing to cover the Brotherhood.

Two journalists for Al Jazeera —Peter Greste and Mohamed Fahmy — began serving seven-year sentences last December on charges of conspiring with the Brotherhood against the Egyptian state, while a third, Baher Mohamed, received a ten-year sentence. All three vehemently deny the charges, which have been condemned by human-rights groups.

[Reuters]

TIME Opinion

‘Offensive’ Is the New ‘Obscene’

LENNY BRUCE AT AIRPORT
Lenny Bruce, refused entry to Britain earlier in the day "in the public interest," makes a V-sign as he leaves U.S. customs office after returning to New York's Idlewild Airport on Apr. 8, 1963. John Lindsay—AP Photo

50 years after Lenny Bruce's sentencing, the world is still deciding what a comedian is allowed to say on stage

Reading about Lenny Bruce’s arrest for obscenity 50 years ago makes me think about a popular sketch Amy Schumer recently did on her Comedy Central show. On Dec. 21, 1964, Bruce was sentenced to four months in a workhouse for a set he did in a New York comedy club that included a bit about Eleanor Roosevelt’s “nice tits,” another about how men would like to “come in a chicken,” and other scatological and overly sexual humor.

How does this relate to Amy Schumer? In the sketch called “Acting Off Camera,” Schumer signs up to do the voice of what she thinks will be a sexy animated character, because Jessica Alba and Megan Fox are doing the voices of her friends. When she arrives to work she sees that her character is an idiotic meerkat who defecates continuously, eats worms and has her vagina exposed. She says to her agent, “My character has a pussy.” Schumer is the first woman to say that word on Comedy Central without being censored, a right she fought for. Her struggle was commended by the press for advancing feminism because the word had been banned even though four-letter words for male genitalia were given the O.K.

A word that could have landed Bruce in the slammer 50 years ago is now available for public consumption, and its inclusion into the cuss-word canon is applauded. These days each of George Carlin’s “seven words” seems quaint. There is nothing so raunchy, so profane or so over-the-top that it could land a comedian in jail.

However, they have other reasons to censor themselves — namely Twitter.

The most dangerous thing that a comedian has to face today is offending political correctness or saying something so racist or sexist that it kicks up an internet firestorm. In 2012, Daniel Tosh made a rape joke at a comedy club, which everyone on the internet seemed to have an opinion about. Many were offended and he later apologized for the joke. Just last month comedian Artie Lang tweeted a sexist slavery fantasy about an ESPN personality and was met with harsh criticism. Saturday Night Live writer and performer Leslie Jones, a black woman, also took heat for making jokes about slavery; her critics said they were offensive, but she defended her comments, claiming they were misunderstood. Most of this exchange took place on Twitter.

This is a common cycle these days and one that can derail a comedian’s career (just look at what happened to Seinfeld alum Michael Richards after his racist rant became public). It’s also something that comedians are hyper-aware of. “I stopped playing colleges, and the reason is because they’re way too conservative,” Chris Rock said in a recent interview in New York magazine (referring to over-prudence, not political ideology). “Kids raised on a culture of ‘We’re not going to keep score in the game because we don’t want anybody to lose.’ Or just ignoring race to a fault. You can’t say ‘the black kid over there.’ No, it’s ‘the guy with the red shoes.’ You can’t even be offensive on your way to being inoffensive.” In a world where trigger warnings are becoming popular, how can a comedian really push the envelope?

In the interview, Rock says this policing of speech and ideas leads to self-censorship, especially when he’s trying out new material. He says that comedians used to know when they went too far based on the audience reaction within a room; now they know they’ve gone too far based on the reaction of everyone with an Internet connection. Now the slightest step over the line could land a comedian not in the slammer but in a position like Bill Maher’s, where students demanded he not be able to speak at Berkeley because of statements he made about Muslims.

That’s the difference between Lenny Bruce and someone like Leslie Jones. A panel of judges decided that Bruce should face censorship because of what he said. Now Leslie Jones gets called out, but the public is the judge. Everyone with a voice on the internet can start an indecency trial and let the public decide who is guilty and to what degree. (The funny truth is, depending on whom you follow on Twitter, the party is usually universally guilty or universally innocent.)

What hasn’t changed as we’ve shifted from “obscene” to “offensive” is just how unclear the scenario could be. The Supreme Court famously refused to define “obscene” but instead said they know it when they see it. The same is true of “offensive.” One comedian can make a joke about race or rape and have it be fine, another can make a joke on the same subject matter and be the victim of a million blog posts. There was even an academic study to determine which strategies were most effective for making jokes about race.

Whenever one of these edgy jokes makes the news, a rash of comedians come to defend not the joke, necessarily, but that the person has the right to tell it in the first place. The same thing happened at Bruce’s trial when Woody Allen, Bob Dylan, Norman Mailer and James Baldwin all showed up to testify on Bruce’s behalf. Bruce never apologized for what he said. Though he passed away before his appeal could make its way through the courts, he received a posthumous pardon in 2003. Then-Governor of New York George Pataki noted that the pardon was a reminder of the importance of the First Amendment.

In 50 years a lot has changed, but comedy, like the First Amendment, really hasn’t. There are always going to be people pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable, because that’s what we find funny. What has changed is who is policing that acceptability — and that makes a big difference. We no longer have too-conservative judges enforcing “community standards” about poop jokes, telling people like Lenny Bruce that they can’t say one thing or another. Instead, today’s comedians are policed by the actual community, using the democratic voices of the Internet and social media to communicate about standards around race, religion, sexuality, gender and identity. The community doesn’t say comedians can’t offend, but that they’ll face consequences if they do. Their First Amendment rights are preserved and, though it may get in the way of the creative processed once used by people like Chris Rock, online feedback can often lead to productive conversations.

In a world where nothing is obscene, it doesn’t mean that things can’t be offensive, as murky as both those ideas might be. At least we’ve taken the government out of comedy, which seems to be safer for everyone. Now they can stick to dealing with the important things, like Janet Jackson’s nipple.

Read TIME’s original coverage of Lenny Bruce’s conviction, here in the archives: Tropic of Illinois

TIME Culture

In Free the Nipple Movie, Women Go Topless for Equality

“Someone is definitely getting arrested.”

Censorship matters to Lina Esco, whose new film Free the Nipple tells the story of a group of activists challenging laws by baring their chests in the streets.

For Esco, “It’s not about going topless, it’s about equality.” The movie grew out of a real-life campaign that questions a country that glorifies violence in the media but removes a woman from a flight for breastfeeding her baby. As one of the fictional activists says in the trailer, “Our sexuality has been taken away from us and is essentially being sold back to us.”

The movement got a jump-start when Miley Cyrus, who has faced plenty of censorship herself, tweeted a picture of herself holding a fake nipple last December, accompanied by the hashtag #freethenipple. It’s not lost on Esco that the sensationalism of a bunch of topless women can only help to spread the word about her cause. “If I would have made a movie called ‘Equality,’ and no one was going topless,” she acknowledged to Entertainment Weekly, “nobody would be talking about it.”

Free the Nipple hits theaters on Dec. 12.

TIME Burma

A Reporter’s Death Shows Just How Little Burma Has Changed

Than Dar, the wife of slain journalist Par Gyi, holds a family photograph showing herself, her husband and daughter posing with Aung San Suu Kyi at their home, in Yangon
Than Dar, the wife of slain journalist Aung Kyaw Naing, holds a family photograph showing herself, her husband and daughter posing with Aung San Suu Kyi at their home, in Rangoon, on Oct. 28, 2014 Soe Zeya Tun—Reuters

Forget the heady talk of reform. Burma will never get anywhere so long as the military remains unaccountable

When Than Dar first approached authorities in mid-October to find her missing husband, he was already dead. In late September, Aung Kyaw Naing had been covering renewed fighting between a band of ethnic Karen rebels and the Burmese military near the Thai border when he disappeared.

“The last time I had contact with Aung Kyaw Naing was Sept. 22,” says Than Dar. “That’s the last time I was in contact with my husband.”

After covering the conflict in Burma’s Mon State, Aung Kyaw Naing (who was also known as Par Gyi) was supposed to join his wife and daughter for a family reunion in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai. But he never made it.

On Sept. 30, the 49-year-old freelance reporter was taken into custody by an army infantry battalion in eastern Mon state. Days later, Aung Kyaw Naing had been killed by his captors and his corpse buried. The military admitted to killing the journalist in an unsigned email sent to Burma’s Interim Press Council on Oct. 23.

“He was treated not as a citizen,” Kyaw Min Swe, general secretary of the Interim Press Council, tells TIME. “Every citizen has a fundamental right to be protected under the law.”

The shocking death of Aung Kyaw Naing comes weeks ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama’s scheduled visit to Burma — formally known as Myanmar — to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit this month in the capital Naypyidaw.

Just two years ago Obama made his first, historic trip to the country, when it was grappling with fresh political and economic reforms after decades of military dictatorship. Now, with a year to go until widely anticipated elections, analysts say the country is now rapidly backsliding into the throes of authoritarian rule.

“Everyone in Rangoon has come to the conclusion that the reforms have either stalled or are starting to reverse,” David Mathieson, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch, tells TIME.

The peace process aimed at ending decades of civil war is stalling, while the nascent press freedoms that served as a hallmark of the reforms are failing to protect journalists. In the past year alone, President Thein Sein’s government has locked up 10 journalists under various pretexts. But the death of Aung Kyaw Naing stands as one of the harshest indictments of the country’s reformist narrative.

“It caps what has been a steady deterioration in press freedom conditions in the country over the past year and a half,” says Shawn Crispin, Southeast Asia representative of the Committee to Protect Journalists. “I think it has raised questions about [Thein Sein’s] government’s entire reform agenda.”

But who was Aung Kyaw Naing and why was he killed? Like many journalists in the country, he began his career as an activist during the antigovernment demonstrations in 1988 and briefly worked as a bodyguard for Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi.

Later, Aung Kyaw Naing was among the many like-minded journalists and activists who congregated in exile in Mae Sot — a district of Thailand on the Burmese border. There, he documented human-rights abuses committed by the junta.

However, Burma’s military, the Tatmadaw, contends that the reporter was in fact an insurgent in disguise and working as a communications officer for the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army’s (DKBA) political wing.

“When they arrested him, they found a map of the position of military troops in that area and an identification card issued by the DKBA,” Ye Htut, a spokesperson with the President’s office, tells TIME. After five days in military custody, the army claims the reporter was killed after he attempted to steal a soldier’s gun and escape.

According to his wife, an official at Mon state’s Kyaikmayaw police station told her that her husband had been severely abused and tortured. The DKBA denies that Aung Kyaw Naing was working for them, and activists and fellow journalists have also dismissed the army’s version of events.

“’Shot while trying to escape’ is the most hackneyed and disturbing cliché in the field of extrajudicial killings,” says Mathieson.

In reality, human-rights activists say Aung Kyaw Naing was likely killed for doing what was previously unthinkable in Burma before reforms began: reporting openly on the military.

After ruling the country with an iron fist for nearly a half-century, the Tatmadaw appeared to slacken its grip on power by allowing a quasi-civilian government to replace the junta in 2011. However, Burma’s most feared institution has remained outside of the reform process and continues to hit back fiercely at the slightest investigation into its shadowy dealings.

“The military hasn’t reformed whatsoever,” says Mathieson. “Burma can only change when the military changes.”

Than Dar agrees. “The army is doing whatever they like,” she says. “It is obvious that the military is not following the constitution or the rule of law. There is no guarantee of political change for democracy.”

Earlier this summer, five journalists were handed lengthy prison sentences along with hard labor for publishing an article about an alleged chemical-weapons factory in central Burma.

The case, along with Aung Kyaw Naing’s death, provides a brutal indication of what happens when the country’s relative press freedoms collide with the vested interests of the military.

Aung Kyaw Naing’s wife is now leading a campaign to open an investigation into her husband’s death. Officials have also promised to act, but the chances that an inquest will be carried out independently are slim.

“If you look back in the past, there were so many incidents like this, especially in the ethnic areas and the truth never came out,” said Than Dar.

Now, Than Dar faces an uphill battle with authorities to retrieve her husband’s body and an even tougher fight with the military to find out what exactly happened on Oct. 4. However, if the past is any indication as to what lies ahead, getting Burma’s armed forces to openly discuss their murky deals may prove impossible.

“I’m looking for justice,” says Than Dar. “But I’ll have to wait and see.”

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