(7th November 2015, Yangon, Myanmar)
To read this press release in Burmese, click here.
1) Maung Saung Kha (the Poet) who wrote a poem and posted on social media (facebook) was arrested on 5th November, 20151.
2) He was charged of defamation under the Article 66(d) of Burma Telecommunication Law2, because the word ‘president’ in his poem was believed as an insult to the Myanmar President.
3) Recently a young supporter of NLD, Chaw Sandi Tun (Chit Thamee)3 and a peace activist and aid worker Patrick Khun Jaa Lee4 were arrested and filed under the same law. However the law says that Article 66(d) carries the penalty of up to 3 years imprisonment, or a fine or both and the detainee has the right to apply and be granted a bail and yet their lawful right has been denied. Moreover, the joint-secretary of USDP in Kangyidauk Township, U Than Tun, who was also charged of defamation under the same law has been released on bail within days5. It can be seen that the decision of judiciary is not independent and transparent.
4) Additionally, the undercover polices without uniforms used an unmarked car to arrest the poet which is highly inappropriate and proof of overused effort. The poet has been on the run since the poem was posted on facebook6. The case was brought to the court by the President office so it is doubtful whether the poet can get the proper protection under the law.
5) Satirical poem and satires have been enjoyed since classical times and widely accepted as a part of literary internationally. PEN Myanmar believes that the artistic/ poetic license should be respected and appreciated.
6) This prevalence also indicates the symptoms of decreased capacity in understanding and enjoying satires. Moreover, the appreciation of literature in Myanmar may be in danger if such kind of threats can be imposed to any kind of literature which is seen as an offense to the people in power.
7) PEN Myanmar sees such an action as intimidation of creativity of writers, poets and artists. We urge the government to intimidating artistic creators, writers and poets by using controversial laws. We strongly recommend the government to protect freedom of expression which is one of the basic human rights.
2 Article 66 : whoever commits any of the following acts shall, on conviction, be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, or to a fine or to both.
(d) Extorting, coercing, restraining wrongfully, defaming, disturbing, causing undue influence or threatening to any person by using any Telecommunication Network.