Junta Said to Have Forced Burmese Magazine to Close


2004-09-17
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RFA Burmese service

BANGKOK—Sources close to the Burmese fortnightly magazine Khit-Sann insist that the ruling junta ordered it to stop publishing because of objections to its editorial content.

“Military intelligence decided they should stop publishing,” a Burmese media source who asked not to be named told RFA's Burmese service. “The main reason they stopped it was because the journal was publishing in-depth articles on international affairs and political analyses.”

Financial woes

The ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) has said Khit-Sann —which roughly translates as "New Era"—was forced to close because of financial problems.

“It’s true that the journal has had financial problems,” said another source, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, “but these never stopped it from publishing regularly.”

On Sept. 15, the Paris-based press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières - RSF) said the junta's censorship bureau ordered Khit-Sann to halt publication on Sept. 1. The government in Burma controls all major media.

"At the rate publications are being closed and pressure is being put on journalists, the Burmese press will soon be limited to official propaganda outlets and a few privately owned entertainment magazines," Reporters Without Borders said in a joint statement with the exile Burma Media Association.

Khit-Sann had been published since August 2003 and was popular with young people and intellectuals.

Reporters Without Borders described it as "one of the very few publications to try to cover current affairs, as well as social, economic and philosophical issues."

Khit-Thit , another privately owned publication, recently received warnings from the government, the group said.

Writers harassed

It said the cover of an issue reporting on the 60th anniversary of World War II's D-Day was deemed objectionable "because its photo of U.S. combat troops was deemed to be 'too aggressive."'

RSF also said the government has been harassing two writers, Ludu Sein Win and Dagon Tayar, after they gave interviews to RFA and Voice of America.

Poor record

It said they had been criticized in the state-controlled press and that Ludu Sein Win's telephone has been cut for two weeks.

In its latest annual report on human rights around the world, the State Department noted that in Burma, "the government owned and controlled all daily newspapers and domestic radio and television broadcasting facilities. These official media remained propaganda organs of the government and usually did not report opposing views except to criticize them."

“The only partial exception was the Myanmar Times , an expensive English-language weekly newspaper, targeted at the foreign community in Rangoon. Although the Myanmar Times was censored and was pro-government, the newspaper occasionally reported on criticisms of government policies by the U.N. and other international organizations.”

On the Web

Reporters Without Borders

State Department 2003 Report on Human Rights in Burma

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