After Weeks on the Run, ‘Penis Poet’ Arrested in Rangoon

By Moe Myint 5 November 2015

RANGOON — A young poet on the run from authorities was arrested on Thursday on charges of defamation after he posted a verse on social media suggesting he had a tattoo of the president on his penis.

Maung Saungkha, 23, was apprehended at Rangoon’s Kamayut Township Courthouse, where he was attending the trial of his friend and fellow activist, Kyaw Ko Ko, who was arrested late last month for participation in student demonstrations earlier this year.

The verse in question—posted on Facebook and reading roughly, “I have the president’s portrait tattooed on my penis / How disgusted my wife is”—prompted a warning from President’s Office director Zaw Htay, also known as Hmuu Zaw, to “be prepared to take responsibility” for the post.

Maung Saungkha fled his home when he was informed that a case had been filed against him under Article 66(d) of Burma’s Telecommunications Law, spending nearly a month in hiding. The law carries a penalty of up to three years in prison.

The controversial law has been leveled against two other people in recent weeks; aid worker Patrick Khum Jaa Lee and Than Tun, a member of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), were both arrested on the charge over posting images viewed as offensive on their Facebook.

The former is in detention at Rangoon’s Insein Prison, while the latter was recently released on bail.

In a similar case, Chaw Sandi Tun, a young supporter of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), was arrested in early October after sharing a digitally altered image comparing military uniforms to women’s clothing.

Chaw Sandi Tun was charged with violating the Electronic Transactions Law, and faces up to five years behind bars if found guilty.