Myan­mar film di­rec­tor jailed for Face­book posts crit­i­cal of mil­i­tary

Mizzima Business Weekly - - CONTENTS -

In­sein Town­ship Court has given film di­rec­tor Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi a one-year prison sen­tence un­der sec­tion 505 (A) of the Pe­nal Code for Face­book posts crit­i­cal of the Myan­mar mil­i­tary.

Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi is a prom­i­nent film­maker and founder of the Hu­man Dig­nity Film In­sti­tute and the Hu­man Rights, Hu­man Dig­nity In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val in Myan­mar.

He was ar­rested on 12 April after a Myan­mar mil­i­tary of­fi­cial ac­cused him of defamation for a se­ries of Face­book posts crit­i­cal of the mil­i­tary-drafted 2008 Con­sti­tu­tion and the mil­i­tary’s role in pol­i­tics.

Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi was de­tained in Yan­gon’s In­sein prison, where he has been held for more than three months since his ar­rest. He was de­nied bail, de­spite suf­fer­ing from liver cancer and un­der­go­ing a ma­jor op­er­a­tion ear­lier this year.

Myan­mar’s laws are re­duc­ing the space for free­dom of speech and press.

Phil Robert­son, Deputy Asia Di­rec­tor of Hu­man Rights Watch, said Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi should never have been ar­rested, much less pros­e­cuted and im­pris­oned, for air­ing crit­i­cal views about Myan­mar's rights abus­ing mil­i­tary.

“His case shows why Myan­mar's civil­ian govern­ment must ur­gently use its over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity in the Par­lia­ment to re­voke laws which clearly vi­o­late the right of free ex­pres­sion, in­clud­ing Ar­ti­cle 505(a) of the pe­nal code and ar­ti­cle 66(d) of the Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Act,” he said fol­low­ing the ver­dict.

Robert­son said the treat­ment of Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi has been a trav­esty of jus­tice, and these laws need to be stripped off the law books so no one else will have to suf­fer the way he has in this or­deal.

Speak­ing for Hu­man Rights Watch, Robert­son said the crit­i­cism voiced by Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi re­gard­ing the mil­i­tary drafted 2008 Con­sti­tu­tion was valid.

"It's shock­ing the court paid so lit­tle heed to Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi's pre­car­i­ous health sit­u­a­tion, and the very se­ri­ous ill­ness he's suf­fer­ing from. Not only has the court been un­just in its judge­ment but it's also been cruel in or­der­ing his pre-trial in­car­cer­a­tion," he said.

Com­ment­ing ear­lier on the case, Ni­cholas Be­quelin, Amnesty In­ter­na­tional’s East and South­east Asia Di­rec­tor, said: “Peace­ful com­ments on Face­book are not a crime, even if they crit­i­cise of­fi­cials, and his is yet an­other po­lit­i­cally-mo­ti­vated trial. The au­thor­i­ties should drop these vin­dic­tive charges, and Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi must be im­me­di­ately and un­con­di­tion­ally re­leased.”

Film maker Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi. Photo: Thura for Mizzima

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