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Suu Kyi’s First Article in 23 Years Published

Messenger Journal in Rangoon which featured an interview of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

 

CHIANGRAI TIMES – Burma’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has written an article about her recent personal pilgrimage to Bagan, the ancient temple site, will appear uncensored in the Rangoon-based People’s Era journal on Tuesday.

Maung Wun Tha, the editor of the Rangoon-based political journal, said that he was proud that the journal would publish Suu Kyi’s article about her recent trip to Bagan.

“I think they reviewed it. Recently, the writer Aung San Suu Kyi met with the president and they seemed to get along, so there is nothing to say,” Maung Wun Tha told Mizzima. He refused to disclose what type of information the board had wanted to remove earlier.

In addition to Suu Kyi’s article, the journal will contain a political article written by Thadin Aung San and an article titled “Fifth Pillar” written by NLD central executive committee member Win Tin about the press.

Meanwhile, on Monday the Rangoon-based Messenger Journal published an interview with Suu Kyi about her views on Burmese young people, according to an editor of the journal.

The censorship board cut all references to politics, which amounted to around 75 percent of the interview, but allowed issues related to youth,” he added.

In this week’s issue, Pyithu Khit used Suu Kyi’s photo alongside her son Htain Lin and his dog. It was taken during her trip to Pagan in July.

The granting of permission for Suu Kyi’s article and interview to appear with front page photos comes soon after her first trip to Naypyidaw and talks with President Thein Sein on August 19-20. She was invited to the administrative capital for a state-sponsored economic workshop as a “special guest,” and also had two meetings with government minister Aung Kyi in July and August.

This move comes amid calls from the international community for the Burmese regime to ensure Suu Kyi’s safety and human rights. US Senator John McCain urged the new Burmese administration to guarantee Suu Kyi’s rights and freedom of movement during a statement in Rangoon at the end of his trip to Burma in June.

For the last 23 years, even Suu Kyi’s name or any symbols indirectly referring to her—such as “the lady,” “the mother” or “the roses”—were banned in publications within the military-ruled Southeast Asian nation.

The censorship board’s recent actions contrast with last November when nine Burmese private journals were suspended from publishing for one or two weeks for covering her release. The censorship board said the journals were “crossing the line.”

Suu Kyi’s article and interview in the Burmese media this week received mixed reactions from journalists in Burma. Some welcomed the move while others view the issue with skepticism, with the Naypyidaw regime remaining notorious for enforcing draconian laws oppressing freedom of expression.

In Burma, anyone can still be charged and imprisoned under the Printers and Publishers Law, the Electronic Transaction Law and the Official Secrets Act among others, if authorities suspect any publication is challenging the state.

“I think allowing Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s article and interview is firstly the outcome of meetings between her and government officials, and secondly relates to the question of space in the Burmese media,” said an experienced freelance reporter in Rangoon.

“It would be too early and out of context if we examine only this case instead of the whole media environment of the country,” he added.

A female senior staffer with a leading news journal in Rangoon said, “It is very good to see Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s photos, article and interview in Pyithu Khit and Messenger. But some publishers will misuse her photos and writings for their own benefit since journals with her photos are easily sold out.”

According to distributors in Rangoon, this week’s edition of both Pyithu Khit and Messenger with Suu Kyi’s article and interview are quite popular among readers and have been selling well.

“Many people came to buy the Messenger News Journal with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s photo this morning. Unlike last week, it was sold out within a few hours due to her interview,” said the owner of a journal stand in Rangoon’s Tamwe Township.

By WAI MOE

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