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Authorities tighten censorship on Martyrs' Day

(Mizzima/IFEX) - Only 10 weekly journals were permitted to attend the Martyrs' Day ceremony on 19 July 2010 as censorship was tightened among media outlets in Burma, local editors said.

A total of only 50 foreign and local journalists were granted permission to cover the 19 July events held at the Martyrs' Mausoleum on the grounds of Shwedagon Pagoda in Rangoon, according to the same sources, while the City Development Committee allowed only 10 weekly journal journals to cover the event.

"We could not enter the mausoleum to cover the event but we could interview members of political parties and take their photographs before they entered the restricted area," one editor of an uninvited weekly journal told Mizzima.

However, uninvited journals are still awaiting the censor board's approval to run their stories.

The censor board cranked up censorship of all news reports and articles submitted by journals relating to Martyrs' Day, disapproving of the use of portraits of General Aung San on the cover, according to one journal editor. Aung San, commonly referred to as the "Father of Burmese Independence", was murdered on 19 July 1947, along with several cabinet ministers.

"We cannot write 'forgotten Martyrs' Day' or anything like that. We can report only on Martyrs' Day (the ceremony) and cannot publish articles and reports on the cover," he explained.

"New Style" magazine had intended to publish a 200-page special issue for Martyrs' Day, but the censor board rejected some 70 pages of the material, greatly delaying the eventual publication date of the abbreviated volume.

"We tried to commemorate Martyrs' Day by making this month's issue a special one, with articles related to Martyrs' Day. But the Censor Board deleted entire articles, at least a total of seven or eight stories," he told Mizzima. "We are unhappy with them forbidding us from doing the work that should be done," he added.

Similarly, "The Voice" journal, in its 16 July edition, could only print news on Martyrs' Day under the title 'Political parties allowed to attend Martyrs' Day Ceremony'.

Aung San Suu Kyi, daughter of Aung San, could not attend the Martyrs' Day ceremony as she remains under house arrest.

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