Man given prison time for de­fam­ing pres­i­dent

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - EI EI TOE LWIN eieitoel­win@mm­

An NLD mem­ber has warned she is not afraid of bring­ing more law­suits against de­trac­tors af­ter fil­ing charges that saw U Aung Win Hlaing, a mem­ber of the Na­tional Demo­cratic Force, sen­tenced to nine months in prison.

CRIT­ICS of the Na­tional League for Democ­racy lead­er­ship have been put on no­tice: A party mem­ber has warned that she will not hes­i­tate to bring ad­di­tional le­gal ac­tion against NLD in­sul­ters af­ter she filed charges that saw a man im­pris­oned last month for call­ing Pres­i­dent U Htin Kyaw “crazy” in a Face­book post.

“Our party is a demo­cratic party and ev­ery­one can crit­i­cise and can give sug­ges­tions to the party and gov­ern­ment as well, but I don’t stand for any in­sult­ing be­hav­iour to­ward our lead­ers. That’s why I tried to open a file and then fin­ished the case,” said Daw Yin Yin Htar, a mem­ber of the NLD’s Kayin State cen­tral com­mit­tee, re­fer­ring to the defama­tion suit she filed against U Aung Win Hlaing and the three-month trial that fol­lowed.

U Aung Win Hlaing, a Myawady res­i­dent, was con­victed last month and sen­tenced to nine months in prison un­der sec­tion 66(d) of Myan­mar’s Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Law, cov­er­ing defama­tion, af­ter call­ing U Htin Kyaw an “id­iot” and “crazy” in Face­book posts.

The wife of U Aung Win Hlaing, Daw Hnin Hnin Win, con­firmed the Septem­ber 23 ver­dict with AFP.

U Aung Win Hlaing, who is a mem­ber of the Na­tional Demo­cratic Force party, wrote the of­fend­ing post in the wake of a pres­i­den­tial or­der dis­solv­ing a Myawady town­ship com­mit­tee on which he served as chair. The com­mit­tee was set up un­der the Union Sol­i­dar­ity and De­vel­op­ment Party gov­ern­ment to fa­cil­i­tate de­vel­op­ment projects.

“I sup­ported him as chair of that com­mit­tee but his post was not like crit­i­cism, it was an in­sult to the leader of the coun­try. The way he acted was very rude,” said Daw Yin Yin Htar. “I warned him to make an apol­ogy on his time­line but he didn’t. He told me to do what­ever I like, so I opened a case file in June to take ac­tion re­gard­ing his stupid be­hav­iour.”

Fol­low­ing the trial, she said she had faced ques­tions about her de­ci­sion to pur­sue le­gal ac­tion and on whether she was act­ing with the im­pri­matur of the NLD.

“I let party lead­ers know about my de­ci­sion, of course. I did not have the ap­proval of the party. I did it in my pri­vate ca­pac­ity,” she said.

Though Daw Yin Yin Htwe said she con­sid­ered her­self to be on friendly terms with the de­fen­dant, she added that she did not feel re­gret for putting him be­hind bars and con­sid­ered the pun­ish­ment to be de­served.

“I like him per­son­ally, but I can­not stand his rude be­hav­iour. I think the case is an ex­am­ple for oth­ers as I have seen many things in­sult­ing the party and gov­ern­ment as well,” said Daw Yin Yin Htwe.

U Sein Bo, a lower house MP for the NLD rep­re­sent­ing Myawady town­ship, said he felt “so sorry” that the defama­tion suit had been al­lowed to play out in his con­stituency and pledged to try to pre­vent sim­i­lar cases in fu­ture.

“I told party mem­bers not to re­spond to any is­sue with per­sonal emo­tions,” said the law­maker.

“I heard oth­ers have been crit­i­cis­ing the party in re­la­tion to the case. But now we can do noth­ing; it’s al­ready hap­pened. Next time, I will take care of it,” U Sein Bo said.

Sev­eral sim­i­lar cases were pros­e­cuted un­der the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment, with on­line posts deemed in­sult­ing to Com­man­der-in-Chief Se­nior Gen­eral Min Aung Hlaing and then-pres­i­dent U Thein Sein among the of­fences send­ing posters to prison.

The guilty ver­dict in U Aung Win Hlaing’s case is be­lieved to be at least the third of its kind un­der the NLD gov­ern­ment.

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