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Newspaper typo leads to journalist arrest

Nov 18, 2009 (DVB), A glaring typo in one of Burma's leading newspapers has landed a journalist in detention and temporarily delayed the printing run of the publication.

The Mandalay-based Yadanabon, one of only four newspapers in military-ruled Burma, appeared on Saturday to promote the notion that anti-government violence can spur change in the country.

The literal translation of a government mantra that regularly appears in state-run media in Burma proffers that "Democracy cannot be achieved from riots". In the 13 November issue of the Yadanabon, however, "cannot" is exchanged for "can".

According to a Mandalay-based journalist, a staff worker at the newspaper was detained and questioned by police the following day, causing publication of the newspaper to temporarily stop.

Locals in Mandalay say the Yadanabon, which shares a name with Burma's first ever newspaper, published in the 19th century, is owned by a military official.

Burmese newspapers, such as the English-language New Light of Myanmar, are littered with Orwellian mantras that instruct citizens to "oppose foreign nations interfering in internal affairs of the State" or "Crush all internal and external destructive elements as the common enemy".

Apart from a handful of privately-owned magazines that nonetheless come under strict censorship by the ruling junta, all newspapers are state owned and often act as the government mouthpiece.

Front-page articles seldom deviate away from coverage of ribbon-cutting ceremonies or diplomatic visits to the handful of countries still allied with Burma, while any material or opinion critical of the government is strictly prohibited.

Furthermore, all published material in Burma must first be approved by the Press Registration and Scrutiny Division (PRSD), which often takes days to pass material through the censor board.

Last month the Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF) ranked Burma 171 out of 175 countries in its annual Press Freedom Index, with only Iran buffering it from the 'infernal trio' of Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea.

Reporting by DVB


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