Burma’s censorship authorities remove penalties on two news journals
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Burma’s censorship authorities remove penalties on two news journals

Government of Burma has reduced the media tension by removing penalties on two weekly news journals within two weeks, the media sources in Rangoon (Yangon) reported instantly via Face Book pages on Monday.

Ministry of Information’s Press Scrutiny and Registration Department (PSRD) have suspended two weekly journals until further notice on 31 July. The stance may be the latest contradiction between the government and the new generation journalists who have been seriously asking for press freedom since the new quasi-civilian government came to power.

The PSRD expressed that the Voice Weekly and Envoy Journals disrespect the PSRD’s instruction No.44 dated 7 June 2011 which says the publications need to pass the board before bring out and  also need permissions for distribution.  The two publications have been suspended for violating the said rules and regulations. However, the censor-board did not give details of the certain reasons for the veto.

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From the Facebook of “Committee for Freedom of Press (Myanmar)” – The slogan: ‘STOP KILLING PRESS’ used during the protests in Yangon and Mandalay-

According to the editors of the journals, their periodicals were banned as they published news stories related to Cabinet restructuring presumption. The Voice Weekly also has been facing a defamation suit over a story alleging irregularities in six government ministries budget accounts, including the Ministry of Mining.

As of August 1, a gathering of 92 journalists held a meeting at the Royal Rose Garden in Yangon and released a press statement. The statement of Committee for Freedom of Press (Myanmar) says to withdraw the bans on the two news journals immediately. It also demands to sack the persons who oppose the reform plan while the country has been on a track of democratic change.

Furthermore, the 92-journalist group demands to stop any legal action on the media and journalists who do their journalists’ duties in line with the Code of Conduct. They also demand to throw away completely the laws governing freedom of expression, especially the 1962 Printers and Publishers Registration Act.

According to the Reuters News, editors of The Voice Weekly and The Envoy told that PSRD or censorship board had informed them they could resume publishing by August 18, without giving a reason for why the suspensions would be lifted.

The two journals were suspended until further notice last week, upholding an objection among journalists who hope more press freedom under this new quasi-civilian government.

The latest suspension of the journals by PSRD directly threatens the livelihoods of several journalists’ families plus the distributors and hawkers. In fact, the authorities should carefully contemplate the social consequences before they mete out such penalty.

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From the Facebook of “Committee for Freedom of Press (Myanmar)” –  “A group of journalists preparing for Saturday protest in Yangon”.

As the country has been driving on the lane of reform, the government has relaxed its clutch on the press. There has been no remarkable improvement concerning media freedom since the new president has come into office. There have been the routine restrictions on media and journalists and also extra restrictions on Internet users as the information minister is the same ex-military bureaucrat from the days of the former junta.

Several dozens of journalists wearing black T-shirts decorated with the slogan ‘STOP KILLING PRESS’ launched a protest in Yangon and Mandalay on Saturday to defy the suspension of two journals. It happened in the course of uncertainties since PSRD’s bureaucrats are returning strict draconian censorship laws.

On 3 August, Reporters Without Borders and its affiliate organization Burma Media Association released a press statement which condemn the resumption of censorship by Burma’s Press Scrutiny and Registration Division, which suspended two weeklies, The Voice and The Envoy, indefinitely on 31 July for allegedly violating “2011 Order No. 44” and a PSRD ban on publishing articles that have not received its approval.

“The PSRD’s measures show we were right to have repeatedly voiced doubts in recent months,” the two organizations said. “It is clear that part of the government or at least some of its most influential members are trying to keep the media under strict control. The current period’s transitional nature cannot be used by the information ministry or the PSRD to justify these suspensions. Such drastic sanctions on the press must end once and for all.”

The two organizations added: “We urge the PSRD to rescind the suspensions imposed on The Voice and The Envoy and to end its policy of deterrence, which just has the effect of getting journalists to censor themselves.”