Free­dom of ex­pres­sion lost in fish es­say case: PEN

The Myanmar Times - - News - SHOON NAING shoonnaing@mm­times.com

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.

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