Defamation Charge Lacks Evidence: Kachin Activist’s Lawyer

By San Yamin Aung & Steve Tickner 22 December 2015

RANGOON — The lawyer of imprisoned Kachin activist Patrick Khum Jaa Lee argued on Tuesday that a defamation suit brought against his client should be dropped due to a lack of solid evidence in support of the charge.

The activist was arrested on Oct. 14 after allegedly sharing a Facebook post with a photo of a man wearing a Kachin-style longyi stepping on a portrait of Burma’s commander-in-chief, Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing.

“The lawyer told the court today that there is not enough evidence to accuse him of defamation, and even if he had posted that, the text [accompanying] the photo is just reminding others not to share that in case of persecution,” his wife May Sabe Phyu, a high-profile peace and gender equality activist, told the media on Tuesday.

“So it is obvious that there is no intent to defame [the military]. So we strongly believe that he shouldn’t be sued.”

The defense team has made several bail requests for Khum Jaa Lee, citing his ailing health condition, which have been denied by the court.

May Sabe Phyu said the defense had asked the doctor at the prison to provide a statement to the court supporting bail for her husband on the grounds of his ailing health, but the penitentiary’s physician was unable to make an appearance at Tuesday’s hearing due to a busy schedule. The defendant’s team will bring in a doctor who has treated Khum Jaa Lee outside of prison to provide testimony in support of bail on health grounds at his next hearing, which has been set for Dec. 28.

“It was really obvious that he is in a bad health condition at the court,” May Sabe Phyu said. “They are intentionally not granting bail for his health just because they don’t want to.”