Freedom of expression lost in fish essay case: PEN
PEN Myanmar, a national association of writers, claimed that the judicial system, in ruling against an author who wrote an essay from the perspective of a poisoned fish, misunderstands literature, the organisation said in a statement.
Aung Lwin (Kan Paut Thar) was sued by the mining company DELCO for writing an essay that evocatively described the feelings of a fish whose habitat has been poisoned by industrial waste. Though DELCO was not mentioned in the piece, the court found Aung Lwin guilty.
PEN Myanmar’s statement said that while the country has a new democratic federal Union, it is still poor at protecting freedom of expression, a basic standard of a democratic system.
“Freedom of expression includes expression via speech, words, and art,” said U Myat Thu, a member of the PEN Myanmar association. “He only expressed his art.”
The legal action against the essay, the statement said, challenges freedom of expression.
“This kind of decision terminates the creation of art and freedom of thought,” it said.
Historically, the organisation said, literature has been restricted and regulated in many ways in Myanmar. For this reason, they said, the understanding of aesthetic literature is weak.