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INDIAN AUTHORITIES RAID BURMESE NEWS AGENCY

New Delhi authorities yesterday raided and sealed off the headquarters of IFEX interim member Mizzima News Agency, a leading source of independent news on Burma run by exiled Burmese journalists, reports the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA). Mizzima is a partner of SEAPA.

"All our computers and files are inside and we cannot take them out," Soe Myint, the editor-in-chief, told SEAPA in an email immediately following the closure.

Police and municipal authorities claimed that the office was conducting "commercial activities" in a residential area and so had to be shut down. Mizzima, which is non-profit, denied doing any commercial work. No staff were arrested in the half-hour operation.

The raid was a surprise to Mizzima's editors as its operations have always been known to the Indian authorities.

Myint and SEAPA say they believe the raid was related to Mizzima's coverage on Burma, and Myint's role as translator for the 34 Burmese rebels currently on trial in Kolkata, India, for allegedly supplying weapons to Indian insurgents.

Mizzima News is one of the few Burmese organisations that actively reports on free expression abuses and other human rights violations.

"By sealing Mizzima News' headquarters in New Delhi, the authorities have silenced one of the few independent sources on what is happening in the secretive, iron-fist regime in Burma," says SEAPA.

SEAPA is leading a call to action to urge the Indian authorities to immediately reopen the office and refrain from taking any further action against the news organisation. In the meantime, support groups across the region are asked to write to the Indian embassy in their country to demand the office's reopening.

Visit these links:
- Mizzima: http://tinyurl.com/3chjaf
- SEAPA: http://www.seapabkk.org/
(17 April 2007)

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