Saturday, August 22, 2009

Domestic journals can quote NLD spokesman

by Nem Davies
Friday, 21 August 2009 19:43

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Burma’s Censor Board has relaxed its stringent rules and allowed two Rangoon based weekly journals to quote the spokesman of the main opposition party the 'National League for Democracy' (NLD).

The latest issues of 'The Voice' and '7 Days' could cover the news of Burmese democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, who is serving a suspended one and-a-half year prison sentence at her home by quoting party spokesman Nyan Win.

"Previously leave alone quoting him, we could not mention even his name in our publications. It is significant to see the censor board allowing us to cover news by quoting the NLD spokesman," an editor of a weekly journal told Mizzima.

The '7 Days' weekly journal in its latest issue carried an interview by her lawyer and party spokesman Nyan Win after he visited her house a day after the special court pronounced the verdict on her trial.

"I bought and gave two journal copies to her. We could give them to her now. She can also receive guests. So we talked with her today for about an hour, Suu Kyi's lawyer Nyan Win said," the journal reported.

Similarly 'The Voice' covered the same news with the headline 'Despite of arriving back at her home, ongoing house renovation allowed' by quoting Nyan Win.

The inside pages had news of the verdict, news of the renovation of her house, action taken against security personnel deployed at her residence for security lapses and Suu Kyi's release by 2011.

The junta allowed the journalists to visit the court and allowed them to cover the trial but did not allow it to be printed in their publications. One of the censored news, '75-minutes long court pronouncement of judgment' has been published in 'The Voice' now.

But journalists do not view this leniency as the beginning of a free press in Burma just because the Censor Board has allowed the journals to print news by quoting Suu Kyi’s lawyer Nyan Win.

"Sometimes they permit some to be printed. And then they tighten the screw again. So we can't say this is the beginning of press freedom in our country. It's very difficult to comprehend the Censor Board," a reporter from Burma told Mizzima.

The junta has put the Burmese media on a leash and banned mention of the names of pro-democracy activists, politicians and their movements.