When confronted by a major protest movement for the first time since 1990, head of the military junta, Gen. Than Shwe, had no hesitation in giving the order to fire on the crowd in September 2007. Japanese reporter Kenji Nagai was killed, some 15 Burmese reporters were arrested for carrying out interviews about the crushing of the protests and the Internet was cut for two weeks. The notoriously paranoid general ordered the tracking down of journalists suspected of sending images abroad of the monks’ marches and the subsequent crackdown. The restoration of order was accompanied by a strengthening of censorship. Now holed up in the new capital, Naypyidaw, Gen. Than Shwe began his military career in psychological warfare, which gave him a strong taste for controlling ideas and the media. Dozens of military officers staff the country’s censorship bureau checking the content of all newspapers, books and films before they appear. Than Shwe has also stepped up his militarist and hate-laden speeches towards the democratic opposition. He has an avowed particular hatred for Nobel Peace Prize winner and pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whom he has kept under house arrest since May 2003, and her advisers such as journalist Win Tin, who has been in prison since July 1989.
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