Thu 16 Sep 2004
Filed under: Inside Burma,News
International and Burmese press freedom advocates Thursday called on Burma’s military regime to lift a ban on a popular journal that covers social, economic and philosophical issues.
On September 1, Burma’s censorship bureau closed the privately-owned weekly publication Khitsan, for unknown reasons.
Today, Reporters Without Borders, or RSF, and the Burma Media Association, or BMA, an independent organization established by Burmese journalists in exile, released a statement calling on the Press Scrutiny Board, or PSB,
to reverse its decision. The reasons for the shutdown are unclear.
The joint statement said that Khitsan editor Kyaw Win was told by the PSB that his journal was “pro-American”. It added that the board, which monitors the content of every publication, gave no explanation of the ban. The PSB is controlled by the junta’s military intelligence services and
headed by Maj Aye Htun.
“I think that one of the reasons Khitsan was shut down is because so many loyal readers among Burmese intellectuals,” said a Rangoon-based journalist, speaking on condition of anonymity. He added that the board barred publication of four articles in the latest issue of Khitsan.
Several others in Rangoon, however, speculate that the journal was closed because it has gained popularity among high-ranking military officers.
Khitsan airs liberal views on various social issues and current affairs and has included the translated writings of US political scientists Francis Fukuyama and Samuel Huntington. Its print-run is 3,000 copies.
The BMA said that in June, Kyaw Win filed a complaint to authorities after propaganda columns appeared in official newspapers which credited the Khitsan editor as the author. His protest went unanswered.
Shwe Pa Zun, a monthly magazine based in Rangoon, was also ordered to close without reason in September. The journalist in Rangoon said that the Shwe Pa Zun editor May Thajan Hein was informed of the closure in advance. She is the daughter of Htun Htun Hein, an elected representative for Shan State of the main opposition party, the National League for Democracy.
Another privately-owned journal, Khit-Thit, was recently warned by the PSB about a recent cover which featured a picture of US combat troops from World War II.