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Censor board limits publication of Suu Kyi stories, photos

(Mizzima News/IFEX) - Burmese state censors are clamping down on the publication of feature stories or interviews with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, on orders from the government, the editor of "People's Era" journal said recently.

Editors of "People's Era" and the "Venus" journal met with Suu Kyi on 21 December 2010. On 17 December, "People's Era" submitted the transcript of its interview with Suu Kyi and the photo it wanted to run to the notoriously strict Press Scrutiny and Registration Division (PSRD), also known as the censor board. The department, however, told the journal that the article's publication would be postponed.

"We're not allowed to publish the interview and also can't print it in our upcoming issue," Pe Myint told Mizzima. "Our script is more than one page long but we had to remove the whole interview."

The interview intended for print in the 23 December issue of the journal was to be replaced with other news reports, Pe Myint said.

Meanwhile, the editor of "Venus" said the censor board had also indefinitely blocked their publication of features on Suu Kyi, who the junta released last month after seven consecutive years under house arrest on trumped-up charges.

"We wrote a news story about her but the censor board said its publication was to be postponed. I don't know when we can publish the story," the editor said.

The "7 Day News" and "The Voice", which were suspended for a week in November for their coverage of the opposition leader's release, were given 30 minutes to conduct interviews with Suu Kyi on 17 December. A "7 Day News" editor said the PSRD's decision would depend on the style of the journal's coverage. "Even though other journals were not allowed, we have submitted the transcript of our interview with her. The censor board's decision will depend on how we present the story," the editor told Mizzima.

A sports journal and eight news publications, including "7 Day News", "The Voice", "People's Era" and "Venus", have been suspended by the junta's censor board over their features on the pro-democracy leader.

The board has also issued edicts limiting the size of Suu Kyi pictures to a maximum of 2 x 3 inches (5.08 centimetres x 7.62 centimetres) for publication in journals, and banned their printing on front or back covers.

Prominent journalist and National League for Democracy (NLD) leader Win Tin expressed his respect for his colleagues' efforts in making Suu Kyi's voice heard despite the strict junta censorship. "Overall, any news about Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD is not allowed to be published and the authorities are holding grudges against any journals that meet with her or the NLD," Win Tin told Mizzima. "Journalists took risks to relay Suu Kyi's messages to the public so I want to pay tribute to their professionalism."

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