Court Accepts Defamation Suit Against Nationalist Provocateur

By Salai Thant Zin 20 May 2016

PATHEIN, Irrawaddy Division — A court in Irrawaddy Division’s Kangyidaunt Township on Thursday accepted a lawsuit filed against ultra-nationalist politician Nay Myo Wai for allegedly defaming the president, army chief and state counselor on social media.

Wai Yan Aung, an executive member of the Burma Teachers’ Federation, filed the lawsuit against the politician two weeks ago under Article 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law and accused him of defaming President Htin Kyaw, Commander-in-Chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing and State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi. Article 66(d) carries a punishment of up to three years’ imprisonment for using a telecommunications network to defame.

Nay Myo Wai is a supporter of the Buddhist nationalist group Ma Ba Tha and serves as chairman of the Peace and Diversity Party. In recent years he has earned a reputation as a frequent propagator of anti-Muslim sentiment online.

Nay Myo Wai was arrested on May 4 and remained in custody in Pathein Prison while police sought approval from the transportation and communications minister to charge him under the Telecommunications Law. The minister approved and the case was submitted to the court on Thursday.

The defendant’s sister Sandar Oo will act as his lawyer, and Myint Thein will represent the plaintiff Wai Yan Aung.

As Nay Myo Wai was brought to court on Thursday, dozens of relatives and supporters showed up and shouted blessings to him. The trial is scheduled for May 23.

Several cases under the Telecommunications Law rose to prominence during the former government’s rule. Kachin aid worker Patrick Khum Jaa Lee and Chaw Sandi Tun each received six-month sentences for Facebook posts that courts deemed defamatory to the military, and a local Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) official received a six-month sentence for sharing fake, altered images of the head of Suu Kyi transposed onto the body of a naked woman.