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India 18 April 2007

New Delhi authorities allow Burmese news agency to reopen

Reporters Without Borders hails today’s decision by the authorities in New Delhi to allow the Burmese news agency Mizzima to resume operations. After recognizing that its activities were exclusively journalistic, Municipal Corporation of Delhi deputy commissioner Deepak Hastir said it could reopen. Around 50 of the agency’s employees were demonstrating peacefully outside as he announced the decision. The agency’s location in a residential area where commercial activity is banned was the grounds cited by police for closing it down on 16 April.


New Delhi police close down agency operated by Burmese refugees

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the closure of the New Delhi-based Mizzima News Agency, which covers Burma and is run by Burmese journalists who are refugees in India. Police raided the agency’s premises on 16 April and closed it down on the grounds that it is located in a residential area where commercial activity is banned.

“It is regrettable that the closure was not preceded by a warning,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The competent authorities should resolve this situation as soon possible so that Mizzima can resume operating. There is no need to point out how valuable the work of these refugee journalists is for the Burmese population.”

Launched in 1998 as a non-profit entity, the agency is known for taking pro-democracy positions and for reporting human rights violations in Burma.

Mizzima editor Soe Myint, who is currently in Calcutta acting as an interpreter for Burmese rebels being tried on charges of selling arms to Indians, suspects that the agency’s closure could be linked to the trial.

“The local authorities know that, ever since our news agency was created, we have not devoted ourselves to any business activities,” he said. Other businessmen and companies installed in the same residential neighbourhood have not been forced to close.

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