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Exiled news sites hit by cyber attacks ahead of election

Three exiled Burmese news websites were hacked on 27 September, the third anniversary of the military's mass killings during the "Saffron Revolution" and ahead of national elections in Burma, report the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA), Mizzima News and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). The Mizzima News site was one of those hacked.

With local media houses kept under the thumb of the ruling junta and campaign rules devised to muffle opposing views, foreign-based news organisations are a vital source of independent election information for Burmese citizens, the IFEX members say.

Thailand-based magazine "Irrawaddy," India-based "Mizzima" and Oslo-based "Democratic Voice of Burma" were hit with a flood of incoming messages – a cyber attack tactic known as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS). The attacks shut down the websites for anywhere from several hours to a day.

"Irrawaddy" writers noted that the same three websites were also blocked during the monk-led protest for democracy that was brutally quashed by the military three years prior.

The hacked news agencies continue to report on the Burmese government's attempts to censor opposition parties ahead of the election on 7 November. This week, Mizzima reported that all political parties must receive permits to campaign on state-run radio and television outlets and at least three parties have been denied such permits.

"Irrawaddy" also reported on the 27 September meeting of the 14-nation "Group of Friends" to Burma, which was formed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Talking to reporters after the meeting, British Foreign Secretary William Hague called Burma's upcoming elections a "sham".

Related stories on
  • Magazine's websites hacked

    On a mirror site set up by "Irrawaddy", the magazine said the cyber attack coincides with the third anniversary of the "Saffron Revolution", the monk-led protest in Burma.

  • Government censors political parties' election campaigns

    The junta's electoral watchdog has refused permits for at least three political parties seeking to campaign on state-run radio and television, claiming the transcripts contained messages that could harm the state.

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