Magazine editor forced by censorship board to resign following publication of poem about Depayin
SOURCE: Mizzima News, New Delhi; Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA), Bangkok
(Mizzima/SEAPA/IFEX) - An editor of a monthly magazine ‘Cherry' in Burma has been forced to resign for publishing a poem about the historic town of Depayin in its June 2008 issue, Mizzima.com, a SEAPA partner, reports.
Burma's the notorious Censorship Board, which operates under the Ministry of Information, summoned and questioned the editor, Htay Aung, on 24 June.
"The Censor Board asked him who would take responsibility for the poem. Htay Aung replied that he has the responsibility. Then he had to resign under pressure," an official from the magazine told Mizzima on condition of anonymity .
He was later ordered to resign from his magazine, "Cherry". the poem that offended the authorities, ‘Depa Ringa’, is about the ancient town of Depayin in Sagaing Division.
The poem "De Pa Yin Ga", written by poet Kyi Maung Than, touches on historical events connected to the ancient town of Depayin. Once home to Burmese heroes such as King Ahlaung Sithu and the great warrior Mahabandula. And where 60 opposition activists were slain in an ambush. For the pro-democracy movement in Burma, Depayin represent a sad memory and massacre, while for the Burmese military junta, it is a symbol of an episode that they would rather remove from Burmese history.
In May 2003, Burmese opposition leader and the Nobel Peace Prize winner Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and a group of activists’ motorcade from her National League for Democracy, were ambushed by the Burmese military while she was on a political tour . The massacre took place in Kyee village, on the outskirts of Depayin Township in Sagaing Division, central Burma. Suu Kyi managed to escape unhurt but she and her deputy, U Tin Oo have been under house arrest ever since.
Former military intelligence officer Maj Aung Lin Htut, who defected from the army, in a recent interview with Voice of America (VOA) Burmese Service, said that the "Depayin massacre" was an orchestrated attack ordered by junta chief Senior General Than Shwe. Journalists and the literary community in Rangoon are decrying the Htay Aung's forced resignation.
Perhaps more controversial in the eyes of Burmese officials, the poem laments that the town Depayin has become a place of birth for dacoits, and thugs. In the conclusion of the poem, the poet said he was haunted by the past when he looked back on 'Depayin' town while traveling along the Ye Oo-Monywa highway.
While it is still unknown what has enraged the Burmese censorship board, it is believed that the poem made officials unhappy for picking 'Depayin' town, which is notoriously known in the recent years, for becoming a place where the Burmese opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was attacked brutally.
The poem does not directly refer to any specific incident.
"An editor should not be sacked from his job for just publishing a poem. But this kind of treatment will continue as long as the Censor Board exists and all the magazines and journals have to get permission for all their publications," a veteran writer said on condition of anonymity.
As a replacement for the editor, who has been sacked, the magazine, Cherry, said it has submitted a new editor's named, Pyi Thway Naing, whom it wants to hire as the editor, to be approved by the Censorship Board.
"We have not yet appointed a new editor. We submitted the name of the editor to the Censorship Board for their approval on Friday. We hope we will get the permission within this week," the official at the Magazine office said.
Htay Aung's replacement on the editorial team of "Cherry" magazine will also have to be approved by the Censor Board. "Cherry" was first published in 1986. Htay Aung, a veteran editor who previously worked as the Executive Editor of "Beauty Max" magazine and as the Editor of Seik Ku Cho Cho publishing house, had been working with the magazine for just over a year.
This poem can be viewed on Mizzima website by visiting this link:
The poet and the poem ( a photocopy)
Another related notorious censorship news:
In January, the Burmese poet, Saw Wai was arrested after one of his poems was published in the magazine "The Love Journal". The authorities said that the poem had a hidden message critical of the junta's senior general Than Shwe.
Burmese poet accused of hiding anti-junta message in love poem .Burma poet held for secret insult
The Burmese authorities have arrested a well known poet, who published a love poem with a hidden message criticising the country's military leader. Poet Saw Wai's work - titled ‘February the Fourteenth’ - was published in a Rangoon magazine, ‘The Love Journal’.
Taken together, the first words of each line read: "General Than Shwe is crazy with power."
Dissidents in Burma have used similar techniques before to get their messages past government censors.
At first sight it appeared to be a straightforward love poem looking ahead to Valentine's Day, but eagle-eyed readers soon noticed what the Burmese government censors had missed. It was not long before the authorities became aware of the poem and Saw Wai was arrested. It is not clear what will happen to him now. Burma's military government is highly sensitive to any criticism, especially since the pro-democracy demonstrations last September which were put down by force. The authorities closely monitor the media and dissidents have resorted to increasingly elaborate methods to get their messages across.
Last year an advertisement was placed in one of Burma's main newspapers in the name of a Swedish travel company which contained the hidden message "Killer Than Shwe".
The company did not really exist.
The Love Journal isn’t the first one we’d look for hidden messages railing against the Burmese government, but that’s where poet Saw Wai is accused of secreting a sentence that criticizes the junta’s top general. The government was none too pleased to discover that the first words of each line in his latest love poem said: “General Than Shwe is crazy with power.” (The hidden message is being reported as “Power Crazy Than Shwe” in one publication, and “Megalomaniac Than Shwe” in another.) Saw Wai has been taken into custody, and BBC News says no one knows what will happen to the dissident writer. Editor Myat Khaing tells Mizzima News that he thought it was a romantic poem.
The poem's secret message was "Power crazy Senior General Than Shwe," and could be discovered by reading the first words of each line.
Artists have repeatedly tried to circumvent state censorship in the one-party dictatorship, and the technique of burying a message inside a poem or story is common.
The eight-line Valentine's Day poem is the story of a man broken-hearted after falling for a fashion model. The words seem innocuous enough: "You have to be in love truly, madly, deeply and then you can call it real love," the poem reads.
But the verse ends with "Millions of people who know how to love please clap your hands of gilded gold and laugh out loud."
The Burmese word for million is "Than" and the word for gold is "Shwe."
The magazine has been pulled from newsstands throughout Rangoon.
In addition to writing love poetry, Saw Wai is a member of an organization of local artists and actors called White Rainbow, which helps HIV-infected orphans.
It is not known what happened to him. A comedian who sheltered and fed monks during Rangoon's political protests last year was held for three weeks in jail. It was the third time he was imprisoned.
With files from the Associated Press
Brief history of Myanmar BURMA
1044:King Anawrahta founded First Myanmar Empire (the throne at Pagan).
1551:King Bayinnaung founded Second Myanmar Empire.
1572:King Alaungpaya founded third Myanmar Empire.
1885:Annexation of British; They made 3 invasions in 1824,1852 & 1885 respectively.
1942-1945: Fell into hands of fascist Japan.
1947, July 19:National leader, General Aung San (age: 32), and six of his cabinet members were assassinated by a jealous rival.
1948, January 4:Myanmar regained her independence.
1958:The care taker party led by u NeWin took power due to rebellions.
1962:The military Revolutionary Council (led by u NeWin) seized power. Over the following decades, this reoccurring brutality has been witnessed in the numerous demonstrations which have been violently suppressed:
1962 7th July Student Demonstration (the military also blew up the historic Student Union building)
1963 Peace and Cessation of War Demonstration
1967 Akyab Rice Riots/Sino-Burmese Conflicts
1969 South East Asian Games Demonstrations
1970 Moulmein University Students’ Strike
1974 Funeral Riots of U Thant, Former Secretary General of the United Nations
1976 Uprising Commemorating the Centenary of Thakin Ko Daw Hmaing (100 year anniversary of the anti-colonial poet’s birth)
1987 Demonstrations against demonetizations of the 25, 35 and 75 Kyats notes
1988, March 16, uprisings of students over the arbitrary killing of students by police (Red bridge)
1988 June uprising of students protesting the treatment of students by the authorities
1988 8 August united pro-democracy demonstration known as the historic "8888 Uprising"
1990 Student demonstrations against the SLORC
1996 December student demonstrations
Nationwide demonstrations were made. Due to protests lead by the youth-students made in all cities, towns and countryside’s participated by the people ranging from all types of government employees to housewives, government changed president for three times.
September 18,1988: military (SLORC) seized power. The army opened fire on peaceful, student-led pro-democracy protesters, killing an estimated 3,000 people. Lots of people were arrested and tortured by military regime. More than 1,400 remain imprisoned, according to an Amnesty International report released in July, 2003.
May 27, 1990: National League for Democracy (NLD) won a landslide victory in the general elections by securing 82 percent of the seats; the military junta refuses to recognize the results of the election.
May 30, 2003: Due to overwhelmingly supported by large crowds in every cities, towns and villages she visited throughout the country, the jealous military made a plot to assassinate DawAungSanSuuKyi (NLD leader). On Friday night (May 30) 2003, up to 70 people were killed and many more were seriously injured, including Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, when military attacked her motorcade near DePayin. Leaders of the National League of Democracy and many members were jailed. The government said Aung San Suu Kyi is being held in protective custody. The military sealed the headquarters of NLD party in the capital amid mounting criticism of the pro-democracy icon by the country's ruling military.
Political parties and leaders: Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA, proregime), THAN AUNG, general secretary; National Unity Party (NUP, proregime), THA KYAW; National League for Democracy (NLD), AUNG SAN SUU KYI, general secretary; and eight minor legal parties
Location: Southeastern Asia, bordering the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal, between Bangladesh and Thailand
Geographic coordinates: Latitude/Longitude 16º 79N, 96º 15E
By Steve Jackson BBC News
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