RANGOON — Police in Irrawaddy Division have confirmed the release on bail of a ruling party official who was detained for sharing an image digitally altered to show opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s face transposed onto the body of a naked woman.
Than Tun, the joint secretary of the Kangyidaunt Township Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) office, was arrested on Oct. 20 for allegedly sharing the image on social media and was released on Monday morning.
Police said that because Union Communications Minister Myat Hein and the Irrawaddy Division government had not given notice of instructions for further action, Than Tun was released after his remand expired.
“We released U Than Tun on the morning of Nov. 2 on bail,” Kangyidaunt police Lt. Ye Kwin told The Irrawaddy. “He was held in remand and we conducted a police investigation, but we did not get any orders relating to the dossier, which we submitted to our higher levels, to take legal action against him. So, we had to release him.”
The digitally altered photo at the center of the case, which shows a fully nude woman with the National League for Democracy’s face, was accompanied by captions containing a string of vulgar language.
Sithu Aung, a local civil society volunteer, alleged that Than Tun was the owner of the account and filed a lawsuit under Article 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law, which was accepted by Kangyidaunt police on Oct. 17. The law carries a maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment.
Than Tun was arrested on Oct. 20. He complained of illness, spending two days in Kangyidaunt Hospital and four days in Pathein Hospital under police guard before returning to police custody for a further week.
Sithu Aung said he was disappointed Than Tun’s release, saying that the admission of police that the case could not move forward without ministerial directions highlighted a double standard among authorities.
“It seems that the USDP and ordinary citizens are not equal under the law. It is not fair,” he said.
He pointed to the cases against Chaw Sandi Tun and Patrick Khum Jaa Lee, both of whom have been detained and are awaiting trial for alleged conduct on social media violating Burma’s telecommunications and electronic transaction laws.
Khum Jaa Lee was arrested for sharing a photo of a man wearing traditional ethnic Kachin attire stomping on a photograph of Commander-in-Chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing, and is facing three years’ imprisonment. Chaw Sandi Tun shared a satirical post that likened new army uniforms to Suu Kyi’s htamein, the female version of a longyi, and faces a maximum sentence of five years.