THE BLOG
06/25/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Contraband Images Escape Online From Burma

Helping survivors of the cyclone that devastated much of Burma six weeks ago is risky business. The junta has arrested celebrities who tried to deliver aid to the Delta region, sending a clear warning that such help wasn't appreciated. Donors have been harassed and even jailed for their charity.

The country's rulers have forbidden foreigners as well as Burmese nationals from providing unrestricted assistance in an effort to control knowledge of the cyclone and its aftermath, which means controlling the meaning of the event. The government must show that it has the situation under control. The last thing the regime wants is to have its people travel to the areas worst hit by the storm, take photographs of the land and the people, and then send the images (and the information and stories they contain) to the international community.

A friend living in Burma has done just that. He or she, by merely traveling to Laputta Township in the Irrawadddy Delta to provide relief and then sending photographs of his or her experience abroad, has on some level prevented the junta from controlling the story.