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Burmese censorship board restricts publication of US President Obama's inaugural speech

(Mizzima/IFEX) - Burmese journals were prevented from printing the full text of US President Barack Obama's inaugural speech, and were limited to reporting on the occasion as a news item with restrictions on the type of information they were allowed to disseminate.

Weekly journals submitted the translation of the full text of the US president's inaugural speech delivered at his swearing-in ceremony to the Press Scrutiny Board. The censor board rejected all of the text.

"We had to change it into a news format - where the swearing-in ceremony was held, how many people attended and how many minutes Obama took to deliver his speech, etc.," an editor of a weekly journal said.

The same situation was faced by other journals. A Mizzima staff reporter who resides inside Burma said that the reason for not permitting the full text to be published may be due to some facts and points in Obama's speech which seemed to refer to the ruling generals directly or indirectly.

During the speech at the swearing-in of the 44th US President, who was born of a Kenyan black father and an American white mother, Obama said, "To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history." Burmese journalists were generally in agreement, saying that they felt that this is the main reason why the censor board did not allow printing of the speech in Burma.

Similarly some journals did not receive clearance to print photographs of Obama taken during the swearing-in ceremony on the front pages of their publications.

"We tried, but did not succeed. We could print them only in the inside pages," a journal editor said.

Most people in Rangoon watched Obama's swearing-in ceremony on satellite TV.

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