Former USDP Lawmaker Sues Woman Over Facebook Comment

By Wai Wai Lwin 20 December 2016

RANGOON — Former Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) lawmaker U Hla Swe sued a volunteer from Magwe Division’s Gangaw Township under the controversial Article 66(d) of Burma’s Telecommunications Law.

U Hla Swe said that Ma Zin Mar Kyi, a volunteer from Gangaw Township, defamed him on social media while responding to his Facebook post on September 20 in which he joked that Gangaw villagers practiced witchcraft.

Ma Zin Mar Kyi wrote in response, “Do the good deeds in your remaining time instead of talking through your hat.”

“I warned her to drop the post but she wouldn’t. So I opened the case,” U Hla Swe said.

The former lawmaker opened the case at Htone Bo Township police station in Naypyidaw.

The township police questioned Ma Zin Mar Kyi on Monday about the case. She was granted bail.

Article 66(d) of Burma’s Telecommunications Law states that anyone who found guilty of extorting, coercing, restraining wrongfully, defaming, disturbing, causing undue influence or threatening any person by using any telecommunications network shall be punished with a maximum three years in prison, a fine, or both.

Under the NLD government, there have been at least 33 defamation cases brought between April and November, according to a legal team working on the case of Maung Saungkha, a writer and activist in Rangoon who was charged and sentenced under the statute.

So far, defendants have been arrested in 13 cases, and three have been sentenced to prison terms.

Only seven defamation cases were brought during the term of former President U Thein Sein, and five of those received sentencing, according to Maung Saungkha’s legal team.