The Irrawaddy magazine comes to Burma for the first time with a brand new issue hitting shelves in Rangoon this week.
The 60-page full color edition contains The Irrawaddy’s typical brand of hard-hitting news, fascinating features and in-depth analysis. This is the first time the magazine has been legally distributed inside the country.
Veteran Burmese journalist Win Tin, a founding member of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, said he was looking forward to the release and revealed that he even managed to acquire illicit copies of The Irrawaddy during his 19 years as a political prisoner.
“I had a few copies of The Irrawaddy smuggled in along with Time and Newsweek when I was in prison. I don’t remember the issues exactly for it was a long time ago,” he said. “As an old man, I’m not familiar with the internet so reading a print version makes me more comfortable.
“I have to say that The Irrawaddy really does a good job. When I was released from prison, the Burmese media was heavily restricted. So I had to rely on the magazine for information as it always openly criticized and pointed out what happened inside Burma.”
December’s edition focuses on the consequences of US President Barack Obama’s historic visit with analysis and opinion of both the political and economic ramifications. The touted return of displaced communities in minority areas, the humanitarian crisis in Arakan State and China’s shifting regional influence are also featured, plus there are segments on travel, food and culture.
Thiha Saw, editor of the Open News journal, thinks the return of a print version of The Irrawaddy will help improve the media landscape of Burma.
“It will be good if you keep your original quality,” he said. “My favorite sections in The Irrawaddy are Harn Lay’s cartoons, features and articles. They are outstanding.”
The Irrawaddy was founded in 1993 and continued as a monthly magazine until 2010 when quarterly publication was introduced for one year in order to concentrate on the growing online presence. The new edition is the first time the magazine has appeared in print since December 2011.
Kyaw Zwa Moe, editor of The Irrawaddy (English edition), said, “It will be exciting to see our readers inside the country reading The Irrawaddy magazine in public.
“Politically, distribution of this first issue will truly be considered as a test of the government’s commitment to press freedom and the overall reform process, because we have not changed and shall keep reporting the truth and any sensitive or critical issue of importance to the people of Burma.”