Despite International Petition, Filmmaker Again Denied Bail

By Htun Htun 26 April 2019

YANGON—For a second time, Insein Township Court denied bail on Thursday for well-known film director U Min Htin Ko Kyo Gyi, who is charged for defamation by the Myanmar military, or Tatmadaw.

A military officer from the Yangon Region Command filed a lawsuit against him under Article 505 (b) of the Penal Code for posts he shared on his personal social media page.

“I have had part of my liver removed because of cancer and I was denied bail again,” the director told reporters at the court.

The plaintiff has presented five witnesses, all military officers, to the court. The trial on Thursday cross-examined the plaintiff and the next trial is scheduled for May 9.

The director has been openly critical of the military-drafted 2008 Constitution and the military’s role in politics.

Lieutenant-Colonel Lin Tun filed a lawsuit against him under Article 66 (d) of 2013 Telecommunications Law on March 29. The military officer filed another lawsuit against him under the unbailable Article 505 (b) of the Penal Code.

“He has had half of his liver removed due to cancer and is also suffering from heart and [other] kidney problems. He presented his medical records and applied for bail, but the prosecutor said he has not questioned the doctor and denied his application for bail. His health is in critical condition,” said lawyer U Robert San Aung.

It is against the law to file a lawsuit against a person under two separate charges for a critical post, the lawyer said.

Motion picture organizations from the Netherlands, the US, Britain, France, Czech Republic, Lithuania, South Africa, Italy, Norway, Poland and Hungary have signed a petition calling for bail to be granted and the immediate release of U Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi who is the founder of the annual Human Rights, Human Dignity International Film Festival.

“Recently, the Tatmadaw has been filing an increasing number of lawsuits. This is not a good image. It is not good for the country. All the cases including [U Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi’s] case can have negative impacts on the image of our country on the international stage. If possible, it would be best to drop those cases and release all of them,” Ko Jimmy of 8888 Generation Peace and Open Society told The Irrawaddy.

As well as the film director, former military captain U Nay Myo Zin and five members of the Peacock Generation thangyat troupe were charged by the military in April under Article 505 (a), (b) and Article 66 (d) for their respective speech and performances deemed to be defamatory to the military.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.