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Junta media watchdog tightens censorship around Martyrs' Day


Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – A mere ten weekly journals were permitted to attend yesterday’s Martyrs Day ceremony, according to domestic editors, as censorship was tightened across media outlets.

A total of only 50 foreign and domestic journalists were granted permission to cover the July 19 events held at Martyrs Mausoleum on the grounds of Shwedagon Pagoda in Rangoon, according to the same sources, while the City Development Committee allowed just ten weekly journal journals to cover the event.     

“We could not enter the mausoleum to report this news but we could interview political parties before they entered the restricted area. We could not enter the mausoleum premises but we could take photographs of the political party members before they entered there,” one editor of an uninvited weekly journal related to Mizzima.

However, uninvited journals still await censorship approval to run their associated stories.

The Censor Board cranked up censorship on all news reports and articles related to Martyrs Day submitted by journals, disapproving of portraits of Aung San on the cover, according to one journal editor. Aung San, commonly referred to as the father of Burmese independence, was murdered on July 19, 1947, along with a several cabinet ministers. 

“We cannot write ‘forgotten Martyrs Day’ or anything like that. We can report only on Martyrs Day [the ceremony] and cannot publish articles and reports on the cover,” he elaborated.

New Style magazine had intended this month to publish a 200-page special issue for Martyrs Day, but the Censor Board disapproved of some 70 pages of the material, greatly delaying the eventual publication date of the abbreviated volume.

“We tried to commemorate Martyrs Day lest it be forgotten. We published this month’s issue as a special issue mainly with articles related to Martyrs Day. But they [the Censor Board] deleted entire articles, at least seven or eight in total,” he told Mizzima.

“We are unhappy with them forbidding us from doing the work that should be done,” he added.
Similarly, The Voice journal, in their July 16 edition, could only print news on Martyrs Day under the title ‘Political Parties allowed to attend Martyrs Day Ceremony’.

Political rival U Saw and his disciples were accused and found guilty of assassinating nine persons at a cabinet meeting in the country’s Secretariat building on the date in question. Those who gave their lives were Bogyoke Aung San, Thakin Mya, Man Ba Khaing, Maipon Saw Bwa Sao San Tun, U Razak, Deedoke U Ba Cho, U Ba Win, U Ohn Maung and Ko Htwe.

Aung San Suu Kyi, daughter of Aung San, could not attend the Martyrs Day ceremony as per conditions of her ongoing house arrest. 

Last Updated ( Thursday, 22 July 2010 01:43 )  

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