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Magwe journalists sued under defamation law

(Photo: DVB)

A village administrator in Magwe has filed an “online defamation” lawsuit against three journalists after a report was published alleging that local brickworks were operating illegally and destroying a riverside environment.

MGY journal editor Tin Shwe and reporter Phoo Pwint Nay Chi, as well as Democracy Today reporter Zar Zar San, are being sued under Article 66(d) of the Telecommunications Act.

“I reported that the regional Magwe government had banned the production of bricks, however several plants were still operating illegally along the riverside,” said Tin Shwe, talking to DVB on Friday. “The brickworks were about to bulldoze some trees. Many locals objected because the trees and plants protect the riverbank from landslides.

“However, this all took place in Thin Baw Seit village, but I incorrectly attributed it to Myin Kin village. Because of that error, the village administrator is suing me.”

According to the report filed with police by village administrator Htay Lwin, the three journalists had turned up at the brickworks site and threatened to report that the riverine environment was being destroyed if the work did not cease. The three reporters took photographs and then left.

Htay Lwin filed a case with police under Article 66(d) of the Telecommunications Act after the reporters posted details about the brickworks on social media. Tin Shwe wrote on his Facebook page that the incident took place in Myin Kin village instead of Thin Baw Seit village. Zar Zar San later commented on the post, saying, “This shouldn’t be happening.”

Administrator Htay Lwin claims that this allegation “harms the dignity” of the village authorities.

Another MGY journalist, De Hlaine, is currently facing similar charges under Article 66(d) for his reporting about illegal logging.