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Military authorities ban artists for backing Suu Kyi, satirising government officials

(Mizzima/IFEX) - In the last week of November, Burma's Ministry of Information ordered eight FM radio stations not to interview or even broadcast the works of more than 11 performers, a radio station employee said.

The move appears part of a program by Burma's military regime to get back at artists who have satirized the junta or shown support for pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The ministry sent letters to the stations calling 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."

He added that the ministry failed to inform the performers about the ban.

Singers, including Anaggha, Thanthawin and Kyarpauk, also visited the South Dagon Township HIV/AIDS Salvation Center run by the NLD and gave donations.

Meanwhile, the junta banned Kyaw Thu, founder of the Free Funeral Services Society and former film industry actor, 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 14 November, the day after her release from house arrest.

Local journals were also told not to write stories about actors Nay Toe, Ye Lay, Tun Tun, Kyaw Kyaw Bo and Moe Moe after they gave a satirical performance named "Htarwara Hninzi" ("Eternal Rose"), which criticized the authorities.

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 promised to build new roads to garner support for the elections on November 7, the mayor apparently became the first politician to renege 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.

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