Nine news journals in Burma have been temporarily suspended after allocating key space in their publications for coverage of Aung San Suu Kyi’s release.
The majority of the nine, which include the Voice Journal and Myanmar Newsweek, carried front-page images of the opposition icon, who was freed from seven years under house arrest on 13 November.
One of the journals, the First Eleven [Sports] Journal which is owned by the Eleven Media Group, was banned for two weeks after carrying the headline: ‘Sunderland Freeze Chelsea; United Stunned by Villa & Arsenal Advance to Grab Their Hope’.
According to the Weeky Eleven Journal, a sister publication of First Eleven, the government Press Scrutiny and Registration Division accused the local journals of breaching media regulations.
It is the first time that a ban has been placed on multiple publications, and follows speculation that the ruling junta may ease tight restrictions on media following the 7 November elections.
Burma’s has some of the world’s harshest media laws, and all printed material is required to go through the censor board prior to being published. It ranked 171 out of 175 countries on last year’s Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index.
The Myanmar Times, the country’s leading English-language weekly, was suspended in 2007 after publishing an advert from Danish activists masquerading as travel agency that included the words ‘Killer Than Shwe’, spelt backwards, a reference to the head of the Burmese junta.
Other journals included in the 21 November ban are: 7 Day News, Venus News, Snapshot News, Myanmar Post, Pyithu Khit [People’s Era], and the Hot News Journal, which was also given a two-week suspension.