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Censors suspend two weekly journals

Mizzima News

UPDATE: Burma lifts suspension on two newspapers after protests (Mizzima News, 7 August 2012)

(Mizzima News/IFEX) - 1 August 2012 - Burma's Press Scrutiny and Registration Division has suspended two weekly journals, The Voice Weekly and Envoy, for an indefinite period for reporting on speculation about cabinet reshuffles and other matters.

On 31 July 2012, the board informed the journals they would be suspended as of the following week for alleged violations of news regulations. The board did not specify the reasons for the suspensions, The Voice editor Kyaw Min Swe told Mizzima.

On his Facebook account, Kyaw Min Swe said, "I think the main reason for the action might be the latest two front page stories. One of them was about the cabinet reshuffle and the other was news about a cartoon exhibition with photos of censored cartoons and censor board members inspecting the exhibition."

In a front-page article in The Voice on 30 July, the headline read "News circulating of apparent reshuffle of five cabinet ministers."

Kyaw Min Swe said the board's recent action goes against the democratic reforms in other sectors and statements officials have made, ranging from President Thein Sein to members of the censorship board itself.

Recently, a representative of the government filed a lawsuit against Snap Shot for publishing a photograph of a woman who was raped and murdered in Rakhine State on 28 May. Previously, the photograph had been circulated widely on the Internet.

"[They targeted] not only us, but they banned other publications too, which is contrary to democratic principles and norms. Our news is not resulting in protests and riots, it is not a violation of the Official Secrets Act, and is not infringing on the rights of anyone. We work only for the interest of our country, good governance and clean government," The Voice editor said. He added that the journal has been suspended six times.

An Envoy editor said the board also suspended its publication on 31 July. Deputy Director General Tint Swe of the Information and Public Relations Department, and Director Myo Myint Maung from the censorship board reportedly attended the meeting along with other board officials.

The editor said it seemed like the resurrection of the notorious Japanese censors during World War II.

The suspension comes at the same time that a new media law is being written which officials claim will remove prior censorship regulations and will bring Burma's media laws in line with regional standards.

Earlier in July, the censorship board warned the Venus and Yangon Times journals that they could have their publication licenses revoked after they reported information about the hospitalization of retired Vice Senior General Maung Aye.

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