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Permit application denied for Tawphayalay Aung Zay Memorial literary award event

(Mizzima/IFEX) - Organizers of the Tawphayalay Aung Zay Memorial literary awards were forced to change their venue on 24 February 2009 after Burmese authorities (The Township Peace and Development Council or TPDC of Kyauktada Township in Rangoon ) refused their request to use a local hotel as the venue for the event.

"The hotel asked us to show an official permit for the event. Only the government's official Literary Organization is exempted from this requirement," Daw Davies Thant Zin, daughter of the late Tawphayalay, after whom the award was named, told Mizzima.

The event was instead held in the Davies residence with only 30 people in attendance, instead of the 100 who had been invited.

Davies said they staged the awards ceremony last year at Thamada (President) Hotel without needing to ask for a permit. At the time, the government did not require literary events to ask for permits for their respective events.

The organizers of the awards said that the government's refusal to issue a permit might be related to a book launching held in January which was attended by U Win Tin, who had been released from prison last year after spending 19 years in detention. He is also one of the leaders of the "National League for Democracy" (NLD).

Burmese authorities have been known to arrest literary writers and poets who write articles critical of the government. Magazines that publish these also get censored, if not penalized.

In January 2008, the government arrested poet Saw Wai in connection with his poem entitled "February 14". When the first letters of each line of his poem are put together, it says: "Power Crazy Than Shwe". Than Shwe is a senior general in the junta.

The contents of publications are also routinely censored. In August 2008, the Censor Board approved only five poems out of 16 submitted by the literary journal, "Cherry Magazine". The censors' decision was also so delayed that the magazine had to skip an issue and lose advertising revenue.

The organizers of the Tawphayalay Memorial Literary Prize this year invited over 100 persons from the media and literary circles, including U Win Tin. The award has been given annually since 2007.

Tawphalay is the great grandson of the last Burmese monarchs, King Thibaw and Queen Su Phaya Latt. He wrote some historical books, including "The New Generation Loved by the People", "Ngamauk Ruby in London" and "From Yadanbon to Ratnagiri". He died on 18 June 2006.

For further information on the Saw Wai case: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/90197

For further information on the "Cherry Magazine" case, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/96113

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