Pinheiro story banned by censors

Nov 22, 2007 (DVB), A Burmese news journal was forced by the censor board to cover up its front-page news story on the United Nations special rapporteur's visit to the country, according to the journal's editor.

The 7 Days news journal had decided to run a front-page story about special rapporteur Paulo Sergio Pinheiro after he gave a press conference at Rangoon airport as his visit ended on 15 November.

Myo Tha Htet, editor of the journal, said they had to cover the story with silver ink as they had already printed the issue while they were waiting for approval of the draft from the censor board.

"Maybe they think the news is a bit sensitive to be featured on the front page," he said.

"We had to spend some extra money to re-print another story on top of the column covered in silver ink."

Zin Lin, the deputy director of the Burma Media Association, said the ban demonstrated the level of restrictions faced by the media in Burma.

"It is very obvious that Burma does not allow press freedom in the country," he said.

"Maybe the government is trying to prevent Mr. Pinheiro from becoming familiar to the Burmese people. Also, I think they do not want people to hear Mr. Pinheiro’s opinions on Burma."

Pinheiro was sent to Burma with a mandate from the UN's Human Rights Council to investigate the popular protests and government crackdown in the country in September and October.

His press conference on 15 November provided details of the people he had met and places he had visited during his trip, but did not contain any information on his findings.

Reporting by Htet Yazar

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