YANGON, Burma (AP) — Burma’s former military government easily changed the name of the country’s mightiest river, but a publishing group ordered to make the same change is putting up a fight.
State-run newspapers published an Information Ministry announcement Tuesday telling the Irrawaddy Publishing Group that it must change the names of its two publications named after the Irrawaddy River to use the spelling “Ayeyawady.”
That’s what the former ruling junta renamed the river in 1989, when it also changed the country’s name from Burma to Burma and the then-capital from Rangoon to Yangon. The announcement said use of the old spellings contravenes the “Adaption of Expression” law.
The Irrawaddy group’s chief, Aung Zaw, called the order an attempt to stifle independent media, and said the magazines would continue to use the old spellings.
UPDATE BY ASIAN CORRESPONDENT STAFF: At present the order only applies to the name used in company registration by the Irrawaddy Publishing Group. The publisher can still use ‘Irrawaddy’ for its publications and mastheads. From the Irrawaddy website:
The MoI will, however, still allow use of our present spelling, “[The] Irrawaddy, for its trademark and logo in its publications.”
In light of this, we will continue to use “The Irrawaddy” in branding our publications—the Burmese-language The Irrawaddy Weekly Journal and the English-language news magazine The Irrawaddy.