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Censors restrict media reporting on referendum

Apr 4, 2008 (DVB), The Burmese state censor board has issued strict instructions to the print media on how the upcoming national referendum should be reported, journalists said.

A journalist in Rangoon said some journals had decided not to write about the referendum at all rather than comply with the restrictive guidelines.

"We cannot write anything about the national referendum by ourselves," the journalist said.

"We can publish articles about the national referendum written according to the instructions given by the censor board but we can’t write it in our own way," he said.

"We are only allowed to write about the national referendum in the way it is described in the [state-run] New Light of Myanmar. So we just decided not to bother."

Veteran journalist U Sein Hla Oo said the Burmese media has a responsibility to publish stories on the national referendum.

"Journalists in Burma now have a huge responsibility to report news about the national referendum," he said.

"But it will be difficult for them as there is no press freedom in Burma."

Sein Hla Oo said the situation contrasted with the referendum in 1974, when the media was allowed to publish news stories in the run-up to the vote.

Reporting by Maung Too


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