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Journal becomes fourth suspended in six weeks

New Delhi (Mizzima) -The Modern Times journal this week became the fourth publication of its kind in six weeks that Burmese state censors have suspended, as it had changed an article’s title, according to a journal editor.

The suspension followed the change of a title of an article about weather conditions on the cover of the journal’s volume one, issue five from the headline approved by the junta’s censorship board, the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division, a weekly journal editor told Mizzima.

“The new title means ‘Will September return?’ and the journal failed to submit the new design of its cover, which is why the journal was suspended”, the editor said.

“No one knows for how many weeks the journal will be suspended … the director of the censorship board went to Naypyidaw to attend a meeting. Only after he gets back to Rangoon can he decide on the length of the suspension period,” he said.

Mizzima was unable to reach The Modern Times Journal for comment.

The first issue of the journal, which contains general topics, was first published in the middle of last month by owner Mhway Thida Thein, wife of Burma Overseas Seafarers Association secretary Soe Min Aung. Its offices are located in Botahtaung Township in Rangoon. The editor-in-chief is Aung Ye Maung Maung and the owner of the publishing licence is Myat Soe (Hlaing).

“The censorship board seemed scared that the new title ‘Will September return?’, might cause the public to remember the ‘saffron revolution’, which happened in September 2007”, a reporter from a weekly journal said. He was referring to nationwide uprisings against fuel-price increases led by monks that started in August but developed into broader public protests in September.

Moreover, rumours circulated that the journal was suspended to avoid make unwarranted public concern over meteorological conditions later this year. A government weatherman had predicted that the La Nina phenomenon – of wetter, cooler conditions – would start taking effect in September, to reach a peak in November.

The censorship board is managed by joint director Myo Myin Maung on behalf of outgoing chief Major Tint Swe, who is in Naypyidaw for a meeting.

An editor said the suspensions were part of a trend of even tighter oversight by the notorious state censors, offered referred to in publishing circles as the “Press Kempeitai”, after the Japanese army’s brutal military police wing, which was part of occupation forces in Burma during the Second World War.

“The relationship between journalists and the censorship board has worsened. In the past, if a journal made mistakes, it would merely receive a warning. But, currently, if a journal made something wrong, it could be suspended”, the editor said.

In May, The Voice journal was temporarily suspended because it reported that a Seven Days News journal reporter had filed an assault case against actress Htet Htet Moe Oo, after she hit the reporter in response to questions about her private life.

Similarly, early last month, the Envoy News and Popular journals were suspended for a week because they featured actresses in cover photos deemed “incompatible with Burmese culture”. Late last month state censors suspended The Voice for two weeks over Aung Htut’s article “Concept and Process” on constitutional issues.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 17 August 2010 18:35 )  

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