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Magazine editor fired over Depayin poem

Jun 30, 2008 (DVB), Htay Aung, the poetry editor of the Rangoon-based Cherry monthly magazine, was fired for carrying a poem in the June issue which dissatisfied authorities.

Censors from the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division ordered Cherry to sack Htay Aung two weeks after the magazine was published.

"The censors were not pleased with one of the poems, so they wanted him out because he was responsible for Cherry's poetry section," an editor of the magazine told DVB.

Written by Kyi Maung Than, the poem that offended the authorities, 'Depa Ringa', is about the ancient town of Depayin in Sagaing Division where heroic warriors and figures in Burma's history were born. It reveals that there were also traitors and the town experienced unforgettable incident in the past.

"The poem is about a town and what happened there, that's all," continued the editor.

"Well, as you know, readers can interpret the poem from whatever angle they want," he said.

"The thing is that the problem came later, after it had been passed by the censors."

Depayin was the scene of the 2003 attack on pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and a convoy of her supporters by regime-backed militias.

DVB was told that the writer of the offending poem had not been pressured and the magazine could continue to publish. However, Cherry had to submit a request letter to the censors to form a new editorial board.

In January this year, authorities arrested poet Saw Wai for criticizing junta leader senior general Than Shwe as 'power crazy' in a hidden message in his poem entitled 'February the Fourteenth' that appeared in the magazine Love Journal.

Reporting by Naw Say Phaw

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