Below-the-Belt Burma Map Could Earn Jail Time for the Tattooed

By The Irrawaddy 10 July 2014

RANGOON— The Mandalay divisional chief justice has warned that anyone who gets a tattoo of the map of Burma on the lower part of their body could be hit with a three-year prison sentence, a divisional lawmaker said.

During a divisional Parliament meeting on Tuesday, Thein Lwin, who represents Pyigyi Tagon Township, asked the division’s chief justice, Ye Aung Myint, what could be done to prevent people from tattooing themselves with the map of the country.

Thein Lwin told The Irrawaddy that doing so could disgrace the country, and that he thought a law should be passed to prevent the act, if necessary.

Ye Aung Myint responded that such tattoos could already be illegal, if below the waist, under the State Seal Law, Thein Lwin said.

“According to Article 7 of the State Seal Law, the offender could be punished with up to three years in prison or fined up to 300,000 kyat—or both,” Ye Aung Myint said, according to Thein Lwin.

The Burmese State Seal Law prohibits anyone from disgracefully using or destroying anything that represents the country’s symbol, which includes the map outline of the country. Burma’s Constitution also protects the Burmese flag, the state seal and the national anthem, but there is no specific law relating to misuse of the map.

“It is acceptable if they tattoo the map on the upper part of body to show their love for the country. But if it is in the lower part of the body, it’s inappropriate,” the lawmaker reported the chief justice as saying.

Thein Lwin said he had noticed the growing popularity of tattoos among young people to express themselves, and felt the map should be protected from inappropriate use.

“The Burmese map is inanimate but it has dignity. We need to prevent it from being used disgracefully,” he added.