Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières) and the Burma Media Association today called on the military junta’s bureau of censorship to reverse its 1 September decision to ban the privately-owned fortnightly Khit-Sann, which covered current affairs and which was recently told that the junta considered it to be too "pro-American."
"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," the two organisations protested.
Khit-Sann had been published in Rangoon since August 2003. When told on 1 September that it was banned until further notice, it was given no explanation by Maj. Aye Htun, the head of the censorship bureau that is an offshoot of the Military Intelligence Service (MIS).
But editor Kyaw Win was told by censors in August that the magazine was viewed as too pro-American. In June, he had complained to the authorities about the use of his byline in propaganda articles published by an official newspaper. When the government did not respond, he tried to publish an article about it in Khit-Sann, but the censorship bureau banned it.
Khit-Sann was one of the very few publications to try to cover current affairs, as well as social, economic and philosophical issues. With a print run of 3,000, it was popular with young people and intellectuals.
Another privately-owned publication, Khit-Thit, recently received warnings from the censorship bureau. The cover of an issue looking at the celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the allied landing in Normandy was banned because its photo of US combat troops was deemed to be "too aggressive."
The junta has meanwhile been harassing two well-known writers closed to the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), Ludu Sein Win and Dagon Tayar, since they gave interviews to the Burmese language services of Radio Free Asia and Voice of America. The government press has openly criticised them and Ludu Sein Win’s telephone has been cut for two weeks.