Myanmar removes Schuster fellows from blacklist

Jerry Redfern meets with locals

Schuster Institute Senior Fellows Karen Coates and Jerry Redfern are among the nearly 1,200 names that have been removed from the Myanmar blacklist which was released this week. Several news organizations reported that the original list included more than 6,000 dissidents, diplomats, journalists and human rights campaigners who were barred from entering the country. Coates and Redfern were arrested, detained and deported from Myanmar in 2009, after teaching a series of government-approved feature writing and photography workshops.

Karen Coates sits among area children

Coates said: “Jerry and I are thrilled to be off the blacklist, and we look forward to visiting friends and colleagues in Myanmar as soon as our schedules permit. But most important are the greater implications for society. In recent weeks, the government has granted local journalists more freedoms than most reporters have had in their lifetime. Jerry and I share in their joy and optimism. But we must not forget those who remain imprisoned, exiled or barred from travel. No one knows how the country’s recent reforms will shape the people’s future. We wish freedom for all. And we remain committed to our work as journalists, exposing truth and investigating injustice.”

On Monday The New Light of Myanmar, a government-owned newspaper, wrote: “In the past, companies and persons from all fields including media men were blacklisted and banned by the government in the national interest. But the government is lifting the ban on them in accord with the reforming system.”

On August 20, Myanmar abolished direct censorship of the media, according to the Associated Press. On Wednesday the U.S. restored full diplomatic relations and suspended investment sanctions toward Myanmar.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the country in 2011, the first by a U.S. Secretary of State in 50 years.

Karen Coates and Jerry Redfern report primarily from Southeast Asia, working as a print and photojournalist team on issues involving the environment, health and human rights. Their book, "An Eternal Harvest: The Legacy of American Bombs in Laos" will be published by ThingsAsian Press this fall.

Categories: Humanities and Social Sciences, International Affairs

Return to the BrandeisNOW homepage