Kyaw Min Swe, the editor of one of Myanmar’s leading newspapers, The Voice, is sued for defaming the military. He will now face trial for the post that he shared on Facebook. The article poked fun at the army, saying the top brass are busy in discussion when soldiers are dying.
Myanmar’s powerful army still possesses significance power, with 25% seats in the parliament reserved for them. Important portfolios like defense, interior, and border are also controlled army personnel. The army barred veteran politician and Nobel peace prize winner Aung San Suu kyi from becoming the President of Myanmar, after a half century long military rule.
The editor is sued under the infamous “66(d)” ruling, which is aimed at prosecuting those accused of spreading defamatory or false content online.
Political experts believe the latest move calls for an urgency to do more to ensure freedom of speech in the politically volatile country. Last Friday, a Yangon court sent the Voice editor to infamous Insein prison.
The writer of the post, Kyaw Swa Naing, was not sued however, since he himself did not upload it.
Activists and journalists wearing white armbands and with their faces also painted white protested near the court premise. They were holding banners that read “press freedom” in red font.
“The government is letting people and organizations sue journalists… using a (law) that should be abolished under the NLD,” protesters Phyo Wai said.
The article also satirized the army’s latest propaganda film “Pyi Daung Su Thit Sar”, which is an apparent exhibition of the army’s domination over different ethnic rebel groups. The government is at the moment getting ready for the next round of turbulent talks with these groups involved in fierce clashes with the Burmese army.