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Plaintiff in Swe Win case arrested

Kyaw Myo Shwe, pictured leaving courthouse in Mandalay on 7 August 2017. (PHOTO: DVB)

Kyaw Myo Shwe, the plaintiff in the defamation case against journalist Swe Win, was arrested today for disturbing public tranquility after allegedly participating in a recent sit-in protest led by hardline Buddhist monks at the Maha Muni temple in Mandalay.

Kyaw Myo Swe had recently filed a lawsuit against Swe Win, accusing the Myanmar Now editor of defaming firebrand monk Wirathu. On the night of 30 July, Swe Win was arrested at Yangon International Airport when attempting to take a flight to Bangkok. He was transported to Mandalay to face court proceedings and later released on bail.

Leaving court in Mandalay today, Kyaw Myo Shwe declared to reporters: “The plaintiff has become the defendant.”

It appears Kyaw Myo Shwe was detained at the instigation of Swe Win’s lawyer, Khin Maung Myint.

“This morning, when he came to the court [to apparently attend the proceedings against Swe Win], no police officers arrested him,” said the lawyer. “Only after I petitioned the judge did the police apprehend him.”

Speaking to DVB, he added: “He [Kyaw Myo Shwe] was a fugitive. There was a warrant for his arrest [for participating in the monks’ protest]. I requested that the judge rule on the warrant against the plaintiff and the judge decided that the warrant should be executed.”

Kyaw Myo Shwe has now been charged under Article 505 (b), a statute concerning public tranquility; the arrest warrant was reportedly issued because he evaded arrest as authorities cleared the Maha Muni protest site on Saturday.

The protestors had staged the sit-in in an attempt to force the government to resign, saying that it had “betrayed the Buddhist faith”.