Burma

Rangoon Resident Sued Under Controversial Defamation Laws

By Tin Htet Paing 28 December 2016

RANGOON— A Rangoon resident was sued by two National League for Democracy lawmakers under controversial defamation laws and she claims that the move was an “abuse of power.”

Ma Myat Thet Mon, 38, told the media at a press conference on Tuesday that she is facing two lawsuits—under Article 500 of the Penal Code and 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law, respectively, filed by two regional lawmakers from Rangoon’s Yankin Township.

The Article 500 lawsuit was filed by regional lawmaker U Thein Zaw of Yankin Constituency (2) and it was brought to the Yankin Township court in late September. Ma Myat Thet Mon has been summoned by the court twice so far, she said. Police are concurrently investigating her phone and SIM card for the suit filed under Article 66(d) by regional lawmaker Daw Thida Maung of Yankin constituency (1).

According to Ma Myat Thet Mon, the suits stem from her housemaid who went missing on Sept. 17. She immediately reported her absence to the police station. The missing housemaid was brought to the office of the lawmakers by a neighbor, she said. Ma Myat Thet Mon was then accused by the two lawmakers of torturing the housemaid and of framing her for stealing money. A heated dispute between the two sides followed at the office of the lawmakers, she recalled.

A day later, Ma Myat Thet Mon made a statement on Facebook claiming that an NLD lawmaker interfered with the case involving her housemaid in order to assert his authority.

“The NLD lawmaker we voted for is responsible for the change and development of our country by thinking and doing great things with a big brain,” she wrote. “Not for showing off his power in every small case in town.”

She urged NLD leadership to replace certain lawmakers because their actions harm the image of the party and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. During a press conference on Tuesday she added that she had felt bullied by the two lawmakers who abused their power.

“They should not have interfered with the case from the start. I didn’t torture my housemaid,” she said.

“I found out that she bought a phone with money she stole from me. I threatened to send her to the police if she didn’t tell me the truth. That made her scared and she ran away,” she added.

Ma Myat Thet Mon has run a shelter for abandoned dogs on the outskirts of Rangoon since 2013.

The 20-year-old housemaid Thet Thet was also present at Tuesday’s press conference. She told the media that she confessed to the police that she had bought a mobile phone with stolen money and that a neighbor had pressured her to make false accusations about her employer.

In his testimony to the court, U Thein Zaw stated that Ma Myat Thet Mon responded “rudely” to lawmakers despite their attempts at negotiation in the case of her housemaid. He also stated that she described the lawmakers’ office as “disgraceful” and that she defamed the lawmakers on social media.

U Thein Zaw told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that he had no comment regarding the suit and would act according to legal procedure.

Since the enactment of the Telecommunications Law under the previous government, 45 cases have been brought to the court. The current government has listened to 38 of them.

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