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Journals suspended over Htet Htet Moe Oo alleged assault


Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The Burmese junta’s state censor has temporarily suspended the publishing licences of two journals that reported the filing of an assault case against actress Htet Htet Moe Oo by a reporter from the Seven Days journal. 

The case filed says  Burma Film Academy award twice winner Htet Htet Moe Oo allegedly slapped and attempted to strangle Aye Thu San after the reporter asked her about her private life. The first hearing was held at Yankin Townhsip court in Rangoon today, at which the complainant and one eyewitness testified. 

The next hearing was set for Thursday.  

The Ministry of Information’s Press Registration and Scrutiny Division (Censor) office at Bahan Township in Rangoon posted a notice that the publishing licences of The Voice and The First Music had been suspended temporarily from Saturday (May 22), a journalist who saw the notice said. 

The Voice weekly journal volume six, number 28 released on Saturday reported that Seven Days journal reporter Aye Thu San had filed an assault complaint against Htet Htet Moe Oo and also printed a transcript of the interview during which the assault was alleged to have occurred. 

Similarly First Music journal had reported the filing of the lawsuit with a photo of the crying reporter.

The duration of the suspension was as yet unclear but a reporter from The Voice who requested anonymity told Mizzima it would last one week. 

An officer from the Censor in a phone interview told Mizzima: “It’s not because of the news concerning Htet Htet Moe Oo as they [the journals] have time and again ignored our warnings on censored news by publishing them [the cut items]  and now it [the ban] coincided with this news [about the alleged assault].” 

All Burmese publications are required by the State Peace and Development Council’s (Burma’s ruling junta) laws to submit and receive approval from the Censor for their front and back pages on A3 paper before the publications go to print. Censorship and deleting is arbitrary and has led to headaches, disappointment and often jail terms for many journalists. 

Members of the Burmese press often ridicule the Censor, speaking of it as the “Press Kempeitai”, after the notorious Japanese military intelligence, units of which were active in Burma during the Japanese occupation during the second world war.

“We are issued warnings when we publish forbidden photos and news reports or photos and illustrations on the front page that we have been told to print inside,” an editor said. “They usually suspend our publishing licence for one to two weeks if such warnings have accumulated two or three times”. 

If a person who is the subject of such items presents a protest letter on a news report to the Censor, the board sometimes bans such news as well. Htet Htet Moe Oo however rejected claims that she had lodged such a complaint on this occasion.

“I have frequently lodged complaints but the current suspension of publishing may be due to regulations of the Censor,” she claimed. “I don’t want to say it again … I didn’t lodge a complaint against this latest incident.” 

Ye Naing Moe, a journalist based in Rangoon, said these reports should be allowed by the Censor as a matter of public interest. 

“The public should know the case of a reporter being assaulted in public while she was doing her job,” he said. “This is not just a case of a conflict between two people; it’s a case concerning the role of a reporter in society.”


Last Updated ( Monday, 24 May 2010 22:19 )  

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