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Transgender beauty queen demands apology for wrongful arrest

Burmese beauty queen Myo Ko Ko San (2nd left), pictured at a press conference in Rangoon on 23 January 2017. (PHOTO: DVB)

Myo Ko Ko San, a Burmese transgender beauty queen who was arrested last week for allegedly defaming a TV star on a celebrity gossip website, has demanded a public apology for the pain and suffering she endured during three days in police custody.

Myo Ko Ko San was arrested by police on 17 January at Yangon International Airport when she arrived back to the country after a trip to Thailand. She was charged under article 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law, which covers acts of slander on the Internet, and detained behind bars.

She was alleged to be the administrator of the celebrity gossip Facebook page Cele Cele Small, which was accused by soap opera star Wutt Hmone Shwe Yi of carrying slanderous posts about her.

After three days in custody at the Yankin Township police station, she was released on 20 January when the Central Investigation Department determined that there was not sufficient evidence to prove a connection between her and the Facebook page.

At a press conference on Monday morning, Myo Ko Ko San went on the attack, demanding a public apology – though she could not say from whom – for false accusations and wrongful arrest.

Following Myo Ko Ko San’s detention last week, actress Wutt Hmone Shwe Yi insisted she had only filed a complaint with police against the Cele Cele Small Facebook page, and did not directly accuse Myo Ko Ko San, who is best known as the Miss International Queen Myanmar 2014 winner, and is an icon among Rangoon’s tight-knit LGBT community.

“The fact that I was in jail cannot be washed away in a shower,” said Myo Ko Ko San at Monday’s press conference. “That’s why I am demanding an apology from the responsible party. At this time, it is unclear whether it is Ma Wutt Hmone Shwe Yi or the police, so I will not specify [who is to blame].”

She then demanded that whoever is responsible print a public apology in daily newspapers for one week.

Article 66(d) covers the crime of “online defamation” and has been used, many observers say, to silence government critics and the media.

Last month, a parliamentary commission headed by the former speaker of the Lower House, Shwe Mann, called for revisions to the controversial law.