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Burma 22 September 2004

Press freedom organisations challenge military junta’s denial over closure of Khit-Sann

Reporters Without Borders and the Burma Media Association (BMA) have challenged the military junta’s denial that the bi-monthly Khit-Sann was closed for political reasons.

The two press freedom organisations said that after making fresh checks following the junta’s 17 September denial, they were sticking to their assertion that the closure was ordered without justification by Maj. Aye Htun, head of the censorship bureau - an arm of the Military Intelligence Service (MIS).

In its statement, the Burmese government spokesman said that financial problems had led to Khit-Sann’s closure. But information obtained by Reporters Without Borders and the BMA showed that the magazine’s financial situation was healthy. It was expanding and circulation had increased by more than 30% in recent months.

A journalist working for Khit-Sann told the two organisations that when the decision to shut down the paper was taken on 1 September, that month’s second number was already finished and awaiting approval from the censorship bureau. This confirms that the closure decision was taken hurriedly and against the wishes of the magazine’s management.

Radio Free Asia reported that according to its own sources the main reason for the censorship was the type of articles that Khit-Sann published, including searching analyses on international and political issues.

Khit-Sann was one of the few privately-owned publications to deal with news, socio-economic problems and philosophy. It had a circulation of 4,000 and was popular with young people and intellectuals.

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