Myanmar censors lift ban on 2 magazines

AP News
Posted: Aug 07, 2012 2:48 AM
Myanmar censors lift ban on 2 magazines

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Myanmar's media censors agreed to lift suspensions on two weekly magazines, editors said Tuesday, after journalists staged a rare protest to demand more press freedom.

The Press Scrutiny Board summoned editors from The Voice Weekly and Envoy magazines on Monday and informed them they could resume publishing on Aug. 18.

The meeting came a week after editors were ordered to suspend publication indefinitely for having violated regulations, but they were given no further explanation.

Kyaw Min Swe, chief editor of The Voice Weekly, said officials at Monday's meeting revealed the publication's offense was a front-page article speculating about details of an anticipated Cabinet reshuffle.

President Thein Sein has eased censorship as part of sweeping reforms after decades of repressive military rule, but some forms of control still exist. The recent flourishing of press freedom has brought serious investigative reporting as well as sensationalism, both of which make the government uncomfortable.

The Envoy's chief editor, Zaw Htut Mg, said he was told that Information Minister Kyaw Hsan had ordered the suspension but was still offered no explanation of the brief ban. The Envoy also wrote about the expected government reshuffle.

Last weekend, dozens of journalists held a petition drive to collect signatures from members of the media and wrote a letter addressed to Thein Sein calling for an end to censorship.

The rally was hailed as historic in a country where protests used to be illegal and any form of dissent was harshly penalized. The event highlighted a new assertiveness in the press corps.

"So many journals were suspended in the past," said Zaw Htut Mg. "But this time, the journalists couldn't stand by and allow this attempt to take us backward while the country is moving forward."