Veteran Journalist Gets First Burma Visa in More than 20 Years

By Saw Yan Naing 10 October 2012

Bertil Lintner, a veteran Swedish journalist who was recently removed from a Burmese government blacklist, will travel to Burma next Monday for the first time in more than 20 years.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Wednesday, Lintner said he planned to spend his time in the country getting a sense of the mood among ordinary Burmese.

“I’m interested in sitting at teashops and talking to ordinary people and listening to how they feel about everything,” said Lintner, who has written extensively about Burma over the past three decades.

“I’m not interested in the views of foreign experts and Westerners in Burma, as most—though not all—of them live in a bubble, a fantasy world, removed from reality,” he added.

Lintner said he will also spend time with friends in Rangoon and travel to Naypyidaw at the invitation of officials from the Information Ministry who asked to meet him.

During his seven days in Burma, Lintner said he also hopes to meet with members of the 88 Generation Students group, a leading activist organization, as well as with the Burmese hip-hop band ACID and its leading member, Anaga.

Lintner had previously applied three times to enter Burma since the country’s new quasi-civilian government started introducing reforms early last year, but with no success. The first time was last December, and the other two were in August of this year.

On Aug. 28, the government announced that it had removed some 2,000 names from a blacklist of 6,000 names compiled by the former military junta. Lintner, who was first put on the list in 1985, was among them.

This trip will be Lintner’s first to Burma since 1989, when he visited the country at the invitation of Khin Nyunt, then one of the leading members of the junta that seized power in a bloody coup the year before.

In addition to writing for numerous international news outlets, Lintner has written a number of highly regarded books about Burma, including “Land of Jade,” about his travels to ethnic regions of the country, and “Burma in Revolt,” about the suppression of the 1988 pro-democracy uprising.

His most recent title is “Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma’s Struggle for Democracy,” published last year.