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A leading member of the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) was today sentenced to six months’ imprisonment for insulting Burma’s Commander-in-Chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing on social media.
Myo Yan Naung Thein, the secretary of the NLD’s Central Research Management Team, was convicted at Kamayut Township Court in northern Rangoon under Article 66(d) of the Telecommunications Act , a wide-ranging and controversial law that covers defamation or “disturbing any person” on the internet.
The law, and in particular Article 66(d), has been criticised by rights campaigners who say it is being used to silence government critics and the media.
The case involving Myo Yan Naung Thein revolves around his criticism of the army following a series of coordinated attacks on border guard posts by suspected Rohingya militants in October last year, when nine Burmese soldiers were killed and four others wounded.
Five days later, on 14 October, Myo Yan Naung Thein blasted the military chief for refusing to resign “despite the fact that most responsibility lies with him.”
The NLD member was subsequently sued on 31 October by Lt-Col Lin Tun from Yangon Military Command for insulting Burma’s military chief. Myo Yan Naung Thein was arrested on 3 November.
At his court hearing, Myo Yan Naung Thein asserted his right as a Burmese citizen to criticise the military.
Several lawsuits have been filed under the Telecommunications Act in recent months against news reporters and editors. Earlier this week, a DVB reporter was charged for allegedly “distributing incorrect information” – an offence under Article 68(a) of the same law – after he filed a report alleging that village administrators in Letpadan Township, Pegu Division, had engaged in a land-for-loans scam.
A parliamentary commission headed by former speaker of the Lower House, Shwe Mann, in December called for revisions to the controversial Telecommunications Law.