Karen political party to launch magazine

The Pa-an based Plone-Swor Democratic Party of Karen State is to launch a monthly journal in the coming Karen New Year. The magazine will cover politics, Karen issues and international news.

The new magazine is set to challenge the government’s claims that it is serious about creating media free environment.

According to the PSDP’s youth chairman, S’Be Kyin Oo, a series of meetings were held in September to discuss the journal, its contents and what language should be used. S’Be Kyin Oo spoke to Karen News about the proposed journal.

“The journal will be called ‘Plone-Swor Journal’. It will include four languages- Pwo, S’gaw, Burmese and English. Our main aim is to raise awareness for our people about political issues, Karen related issues and other international knowledge. Plone-Swor Journal will be distributed monthly.”

A production committee made up of party leaders will supervise the journal – Saw Shar Maung Kho Da will be editor and Naw Yuzana, his deputy editor.

S’Be Kyin Oo said the journal sections will include political, social events, general news, cartoons and 13 people will work to collect news and articles.

Working with an authorised ‘publication permit No. 2Th-028’, Plone-Swor Journal’s production committee will be accepting written articles and contribution from 22nd September to 20th of November for the first issue of the journal that will be launched during the Karen New Year celebrations. A party member who attended the meeting said it was decided each edition’s print run would be 3,000 copies.

“The first journal is to be produced at the time of Karen New Year. The production committee, field journalists and feature writers have all been appointed.”

A party member said that PSDP have no rules on prohibiting content.

“We are already observing freedom of speech and [free] expression. We don’t have any rules on our journal. As long as we don’t hurt the three main national causes — 1) Non-disintegration of the Union, 2) Non-disintegration of the National Solidarity and 3) Perpetuation of Sovereignty — other issues can be reported on freely.”

Although the PSDP are optimistic about media freedom in Burma under the recently elected government, the country is still listed by international media watchdogs as among the world’s worst.

Reporters Without Borders ranked Burma at 174 out of 178 in their 2010 press freedom index while the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists in their latest report, released in September this year, said that despite the promises of reform by the new government, “Burma’s heavily censored media is still among the most restricted in the world.”

The international media organisations conclude that media freedom in Burma is among the most restricted and censored in the world. The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners-Burma stated in their latest update that there are 23 media workers in jail.

Last week, a young reporter, Sithu Zeya, working for the Oslo-based Democratic Voice of Burma was sentenced to additional 10 years to the eight years he is already serving after he was arrested in April last year.

Meanwhile, as many as 70 people attended the Plone-Swor Democratic Party’s production for their proposed journal, these included members from the Karen Literacy Association, the Plone Education Development Unit and individual Karen academics.

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