Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Journals ordered to condemn NLD demonstration

Jan 6, 2009 (DVB)–Weekly news journals in Burma have been ordered by the state censor board to publish articles criticising National League for Democracy members for staging a demonstration in Rangoon last week.

Journalists and publishers in Rangoon said yesterday that censor board officials had recently ordered them to publish a government-approved article on the protest.

The article accused senior NLD member Win Tin of being behind a demonstration on 30 December by nine NLD youth members who were arrested by authorities.

It also claimed that their demonstration was not supported by the general public.

A journalist in Rangoon said he had seen the article printed in several news journals and other publications.

"I saw the article in the True weekly journal and a few others; it accused U Win Tin of encouraging the youths to stage the demonstration," he said.

"The publications had other choice but to include the article to keep their business out of trouble, but everyone knows whether or not the details of the article were accurate."

Veteran journalist and former political prisoner Win Tin said he had read the article in the Morning Post.

"It has two main points – first, that the youths were brainwashed by the propaganda of me and U Khin Maung Swe's speech, and second, that the public has no interest in their activities," Win Tin said.

"If they want to say that I brainwashed the youths, then they should include the details of how I did that," he said.

"Just claiming U Khin Maung Swe was behind the [demonstration] because the youths did it after listening to his speech is wrong,” he went on.

“U Khin Maung Swe only talked about independence and they have no reason to say there is a link between what he said and the demonstration."

Win Tin also challenged the claim that the demonstration had no public support.

"The article said there is no public interest in the NLD youths' demonstration and I think that is also wrong," Win Tin said.

"A lot of people oppose the government and want to rebel against it,” he said.

“Saying that these people, who would applaud anyone acting against the government, have no interest in such activity is actually very wrong."

Nine NLD youth members were arrested on 30 December while taking part in a peaceful march following a talk at the party headquarters in Rangoon.

The activists carried placards calling for the release of detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and were walking towards the Myenigone area when they were arrested in front of the old parliament building.

Reporting by Ahunt Phone Myat

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