Chief censor in Myanmar caps his red pen

Thomas Fuller in NYT:

His office was once the site of an interrogation center run by Japan’s feared military police during World War II. And that is how U Tint Swe got his nickname: the literary torturer.

 “We didn’t arrest or torture anyone, but we had to torture their writing,” Mr. Tint Swe said, his serious expression yielding to a faint smile.

 Mr. Tint Swe was Myanmar’s last censor in chief, the powerful arbiter of what the public would read — and what was deleted from official history.

 For nearly five decades, military governments here examined every book, every article, each illustration, photo or poem before printing. It was a crucial exercise for the military, which sought control over nearly every facet of citizens’ lives.

 The censorship office, known by the Orwellian title of Press Scrutiny and Registration Division, infuriated generations of authors. Censors returned manuscripts with red lines through entire passages. Often they banned books or articles altogether. Any whiff of dissent toward the military or suggestion of government corruption was removed. Burma, the old name of the country, was deleted in favor of Myanmar, the name preferred by the military junta. More:

A reporter ‘friends’ his censor

Thomas Fuller in IHT:

I wandered into the room where foreign newspapers are “scrutinized” and was greeted effusively by Khaing Thazin Htwe, a smiling young woman with long hair and bangs in a pretty white embroidered shirt.

She was the person responsible for reading the IHT every day, paying special attention to the articles on Myanmar — my articles.

It was a surreal, Wizard of Oz moment. I had expected to peer behind the curtain and see an ill-tempered older man with thick glasses, a green eyeshade and a permanent scowl.

But Ms. Khaing Thazin Htwe could not have been more friendly and earnest. Her purple and turquoise name card was decorated with a heart. We chatted like old pals and exchanged Facebook information.

I told her I would friend her. More:

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