Arakan National Party Member Sues Facebook User Under Article 66(d)

By Moe Myint 2 January 2017

RANGOON — A member of the Arakan National Party (ANP) U Tin Maung Htun filed a lawsuit against a Facebook user for defamation under the controversial Article 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law at the Sittwe Police Station last week.

The ANP general secretary U Htun Aung Kyaw confirmed that the case was filed after the user—Tha Hla Htun—insulted ANP chair Dr. Aye Maung online using U Tin Maung Htun’s photo as his profile picture, but stressed that the party’s central executive committee did not instruct U Tin Maung Htun to file the case.

“Although we [ANP members] were attacked in several ways online we never responded with Article 66(d) because the law restricts freedom of expression and the media,” he told The Irrawaddy.

U Tin Maung Htun filed the case over the use of his photo as it could mislead the public that a party member was confronting the party chair, explained U Htun Aung Kyaw.

The ANP’s move shocked the Arakan community as ANP member and former house speaker Thura Shwe Mhan is currently head of the Commission for the Assessment of Legal Affairs and Special Issues and presenting amendments of Article 66(d) to be decided by the Union Parliament in the coming months.

When The Irrawaddy asked U Htun Aung Kyaw whether ANP executive committee members planned to ask the plaintiff to drop the case he answered that the committee will not interfere in personal cases.

The law dates back to the military-backed administration of former President U Thein Sein, when it was mainly used to deter criticism of the government but has risen in popularity this year among the government, the Burma Army, and the National League for Democracy.

Between April and Dec. 23 a total of 38 Article 66(d) cases were filed with 15 people arrested and five charged. There were only seven cases and five convictions under the previous government.