Yangon: The censorship board has recently warned the weekly publication of the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party, the leading Arakanese political party in western Burma’s Arakan State, for publishing a story it deems sensitive to the country’s politics.
U Myo Naing, publisher of the RNDP’s “The Development Journal”, told Narinjara that he was summoned and warned by the censorship board for publishing and article titled, “From the Green Uniform Democracy to the Yellow Skirt Democracy” in a recent publication of the journal.
“I was summoned and warned by the censorship board on 17 March regarding the article “From the Green Uniform Democracy to the Yellow Skirt Democracy”, written by Toe Tak Khine and presented in Vol. 2, No. 4 of our journal that was published on 29 February. I was also made to sign a promise after being warned to never publish such a story in the journal in the future,” said U Myo Naing.
He said the censorship board issued the warning in reference to an order that was passed during the rule of the previous SPDC regime.
“They told me that they had to object to that article according to Directive No. 44 that was issued during the reign of the previous SPDC regime. The article is written on different topics, including an analysis of the laws that were enforced by the recent military regimes, but they did not tell us exactly what content in the story led them to issue the warning,” he said.
Ten copies of each publication of the journal have to be submitted to the censorship board just after they are printed, he said, adding that this is the second warning the journal has received since it was established.
“This is the second warning we have ever received and we have nothing to say about those warnings, but we have to be careful for our writings not to entangle with the rules of the censorship board in our future publications because we have to publish our journal within the boundary of laws and rules,” said U Myo Naing.
When asked for an opinion on the censorship board’s warning, the general secretary of the RNDP, U Hla Saw, said he was disappointed in the warning as it has come about as the central government is working to promote press freedom in the country.
“After all, there is no contentious topic written in that article published in our journal, but it is written about some events that really happened during the ages of the old political system in our region. We feel disappointed because our journal was warned for such a small matter at the same time when Union Minister U Kyaw San was working together with UNESCO and international journalists for the development of media laws and freedom in the country,” said U Hla Saw.
However, he said his party can understand the censorship board has to work in accordance with the old principles in this matter, adding that the party hopes there will be more press freedom after new principles and laws for the media are enforced in the near future.
The RNDP has been publishing the journal three times a month since 2011, with 5,000 copies printed for each issue. Journal issue Volume 2, No. 4 that was hit by the warning from the censorship board was the 16th publication from the party. The journal can be subscribed to for 1,000 Kyat a month.
It was also learned that the journal is very popular among the Arakanese people for spotlighting what is currently happening in Arakan State.