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Artists off-the-air after backing Suu Kyi

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Burma’s Ministry of Information banned eight FM radio stations from broadcasting interviews or the work of more than 11 performers in the final week of last month, a station employee said.

FMRadio_PosterThe move appears part of a programme by Burma’s ruling military regime to pay back artists who have satirised the junta or shown support for pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi through further muzzling of the Burmese media.

The ministry sent letters to the stations call a halt to broadcasts of singers Saung Oo Hlaing, Anaggha, Thanthawin and Kyarpauk; bass guitarist Ye Lwin; film directors Myo Min, Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi and Cho Too Zaw; actor Kyaw Thu and his wife Shwe Zigwet; and writer Than Myint Aung, the station employee said.

“The Ministry of Information ordered us to stop broadcasting their interviews and performances,” the employee said on condition of anonymity.

The letters gave no reason for the ban and failed to say when the ban would expire, the employee said.

Mizzima contacted one of those performers who requested anonymity, but said: “After the election, we tried to express what we felt. It’s just another example of their attitude on controlling the media.”

The ministry however had failed to inform the performers about the ban, the performer said.

Meanwhile, observers said the artists had been cut from the airwaves because of their support for National League for Democracy leader Suu Kyi and their satirical works on Burma’s ruling military junta.

Singers including Anaggha, Thanthawin and Kyarpauk had also visited the South Dagon Township HIV/Aids Salvation Centre run by the NLD and made donations.

Meanwhile, the junta banned from the film industry former actor Kyaw Thu, founder of the Free Funeral Services Society, because of his activities in the nationwide monk-led protests known as the “saffron revolution” in 2007. He also met Suu Kyi at her home on November 14, the day after her release from house arrest. 

Actors Nay Toe, Ye Lay, Tun Tun, Kyaw Kyaw Bo and Moe Moe were banned from stories in local journals after they gave a satirical performance named Htarwara Hninzi (Eternal Rose), which criticised the authorities on November 21.

In the traditional performance, Nay Toe sang a satirical song, the lyrics of which included: “I swear … roads were built reluctantly … and they were incomplete, so we cannot use them well …”. 

The song was a popular jibe aimed possibly at Rangoon mayor and Union Solidarity and Development Party candidate lawmaker-elect Aung Thein Lin. Having undertaken to build new roads to garner support ahead of nationwide elections on November 7, the mayor apparently became the first and most obvious politician to have reneged on an election promise.

Residents and witnesses say construction has come to a halt in the post-election period on the half-finished “Aung Thein Lin” roads, which only cover half of some streets in the former Burmese capital.

A journal editor told Mizzima: “When I went to the junta’s censorship board, they told me to remove an interview of a comedian who had performed on Eternal Rose … they informed me that the five actors and movie director Myo Min were banned from journals.”

Subject to the ban were Rangoon City FM, Mandalay City FM, Padauk Myay Service, Shwe FM, Paddamya FM, Pyinsawaddy FM, Cherry FM and Bagan FM.

Last Updated ( Friday, 03 December 2010 19:44 )  

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