Five Members of Thangyat Troupe Jailed for Criticizing Military

By The Irrawaddy 22 April 2019

YANGON—Five members of the Peacock Generation Thangyat troupe were denied bail and sent to Insein Prison on Monday afternoon for criticizing the military during a performance.

Lieutenant-Colonel Than Tun Myint opened cases against the five members of the Peacock Generation satirical performance group—Ko Zeyar Lwin, Ko Paing Phyo Min, Ko Paing Ye Thu, Ko Phoe Thar and Ma Kay Khine Tun—under Article 505(a) of the Penal Code.

Article 505 (a) makes it a crime to engage in activity that is seen to undermine the military. It carries a maximum two-year prison sentence.

During the Myanmar New Year celebrations, the troupe performed a number of Thangyat songs that criticized the military’s role in politics. Thangyat is a traditional Burmese performing art in which a group of performers sing satirical songs criticizing the government and the situation in the country, as well as highlighting the difficulties and suffering of the people.

Defamation cases under Article 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law were also opened against the members of Peacock Generation relating to the same event in Yangon, as well as for their livestreaming of a video of their performance in Irrawaddy Region.

Since the second week of this month, senior military officials have opened cases against several critics. On April 12, prominent filmmaker and human rights activist Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi was arrested for a series of Facebook posts criticizing the military-drafted 2008 Constitution and the political role that it grants to the Army. And on April 19, ex-Army Captain Ko Nay Myo Zin was arrested for giving a speech against the military.