Colonel Seeks Defamation Suit Against Monk For Posts About Commander-in-Chief

By Zarni Mann 24 September 2018

MANDALAY — A military officer in Mandalay is asking police to sue a local Buddhist monk for defaming Senior General Min Aung Hlaing online.

Lieutenant Colonel Myo Khaing Win of the military’s Central Command, Mandalay Division, filed the complaint at the Amarapura Township police station on Sunday requesting that legal action be taken against U Thawbita, who heads a local charity called Bawa Alin.

“The monk is using social media to accuse and defame the senior general and the military by writing nonsense,” the complaint, show to The Irrawaddy by police, says. It asks that U Thawbita be sued under Article 66 (d) of the Telecommunications Act, and references posts on the monk’s Facebook page.

One of the posts says Snr. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing may have orchestrated a prison break in Karen State on Sept. 16. Other posts over the past week liken the commander-in-chief to a cow and say the military is more destructive than a natural disaster.

The head of the township police station, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to peak with the media, said the police have accepted the complaint but added that the lawsuit could only proceed once U Thawbita is at hand.

The police officer said the monk could not be found at the local monastery where he lives and that he has not answered his phone.

U Thawbita has repeatedly posted messages on Facebook supporting of State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy party and criticizing the military.

The Irrawaddy could not reach the monk by phone on Monday.

“U Thawbita’s posts may be harsh to some people, but we think he should be judged only by the law of the State Sangha authority because he is a Buddhist monk,” said a monk who knows U Thawbita and asked to remain anonymous for his protection.