Friday, May 4, 2012

End censorship in Burma: media group

Friday, 04 May 2012 13:01 Myo Thant

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Censorship by the government in Burma should be eliminated, the Myanmar Journalists Association Organizing Committee (MJAOC) said on World Press Freedom Day.

Soe Win, the deputy minister of the Information Ministry, speaks at the World Press Freedom Day ceremonies held at The Strand Hotel in Rangoon on Thursday, May 3, 2012. Photo: Mizzima / Min Min Oo

“Censorship should not be imposed at every step of a publication from registration of news media to distribution,” said a statement issued on Thursday.

Myo Min Htike, a MJAOC secretary and chief editor of Venus News Journal, told Mizzima, “Every journal must have the right to publish without censorship.”

Burmese censorship rules are divided into two categories of newspapers and magazines: Group 1 includes 178 publications that focus on education, economics, international news, art, general knowledge, health, sports, children’s literature, and technology, which are not required to pass articles through censors prior to publication. Copies of articles must be submitted after publication to the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division (PSRD) under the Information Ministry.

Group 2 includes more than 180 publications that focuse on news, religion and crime. All articles and photographs must pass through censors prior to publication.

For example, currently the PSRD censors all articles about fighting between government troops and the Kachin Independence Army in Kachin State, according said Myo Min Htike.

The government also restricts journalists from travel in foreign countries, he said.

“When journalists apply to attend a training class, they scrutinize the request very carefully. For journalists, it’s very difficult to obtain a passport. Journalists need to go through more processes to get passports in comparison with ordinary people. Journalists need testimonials given by the relevant publication or the Myanmar Writers and Journalists Association,” he said.

The statement said the group supported The Voice newspaper, which is defending itself against a suit by the Ministry of Mines. The paper reported information from a government report that alleged financial transgressions. The case is currently being heard in court.

The Committee to Protect Journalists on Wednesday released a report listing the world’s “most censored” countries. Burma is No. 7 on the list.

The report said: “All privately run news publications in Burma are forced to publish weekly rather than daily due to stifling pre-publication censorship requirements.”

The Myanmar Journalists Association Organizing Committee held a ceremony to mark World Press Freedom Day on Thursday at Central Hotel in Rangoon. About 100 journalists attended. The committee was formed on April 5. Members include editors, reporters, cartoonists, poets, graphic designers and artists from newspapers, magazines, TV stations and electronic media.

UNESCO and the Information Ministry jointly organized a ceremony to mark World Press Freedom Day at The Strand Hotel in Rangoon on Thursday. World Press Freedom Day was established by the U.N. in 1992.

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