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Myanmar Destroys Videotapes

April 8, 2000

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) _ Saying Myanmar’s culture was at risk, authorities have destroyed thousands of videotapes, videodiscs and frowned-on fashions ahead of the traditional New Year next week.

The military government’s official newspapers reported today that 14,305 videotapes, 36,132 videodiscs, and other items, including flags and masks, were put to the torch Friday in a police compound while high level officials of the military regime looked on.

Youths in recent years have taken to wearing Halloween masks and wrapping themselves in U.S. and British flags during the holiday. The United States and Britain are two of the countries pushing hardest for Myanmar to give up military rule for democracy.

Col. Than Tun, head of the Office of Strategic Studies, part of military intelligence, said that illegally imported tapes and disks might inspire youths to copy bad behavior and harm Myanmar’s culture.

The newspapers said the destruction was aimed at protecting Myanmar traditions during the New Year’s festival April 12-15, customarily a rowdy time when Myanmar’s people douse each other with water.

Over the past week, newspapers have carried warnings to preserve ``national culture″ and avoid ``decadent culture.″ They have also warned against throwing ice packs during the holiday that can injure people and damage cars.

In last year’s festival, authorities confiscated flags and masks and detained some teen-agers for 24 hours.

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