The Burmese government has announced it is ending media censorship with immediate effect -- a symbolic step on the road to freedom in the long repressed Asian country.

The Burmese pro-democracy newsmagazine Irrawaddy, based in Thailand, reported that officials from the government's Press Scrutiny and Registration Department told local journalists in Yangon that they were no longer obligated to submit their articles to state censors before publication.

AFP quoted an unnamed newspaper editor in Burma's largest city, Yangon: "This is a great day for all journalists in Myanmar, who have laboured under these odious restrictions for far too many years."

President Thein Sein's reformist government has eased censorship laws since the end of military rule last year. However on June 9, the Burmese government suspended Snapshot news journal for publishing a photo of the corpse of Thida Htwe, a rape and murder victim -- which caused sectarian violence between Buddhists and Muslims in Burma's Rakhine State, reports the Democratic Voice of Burma.

Nevertheless, there is still a long way to freedom of expression, as a ministry official told AFP that film censorship would remain.