RANGOON — The husband of a renowned ethnic Kachin peace activist has been arrested after sharing a Facebook post deemed to defame the Burma Army, the second such arrest this week.
Patrick Khum Jaa Lee, 43, was apprehended by plainclothes police on Wednesday at his home in Rangoon’s Hlaing Township, where he lives with his wife May Sabe Phyu, a high-profile peace and gender equality activist.
Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Thursday, his daughter Ah Pam said he was arrested on defamation charges related to sharing a photo of a man wearing a Kachin-style longyi stepping on a portrait of Commander-in-Chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing.
“Around five people from the Hlaing police station took daddy at 7:30pm yesterday [Wednesday] for the post he shared on Facebook,” Ah Pam said by phone as she waited to see her father at the police station. “So far we haven’t had a chance to see him.”
A senior police official in Rangoon’s western district, where Hlaing is located, confirmed that Patrick Khum Jaa Lee had been charged under Article 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law after a Lt-Col for the Burma Army filed a suit against him. Defamation or threats punished under the provision can result in a sentence of up to three years.
The officer said the defendant “has been brought to trial and remanded,” and that his laptop and phone had been confiscated.
Ah Pam said her mother, May Sabe Phyu, was currently in Ireland and will return to Burma immediately to attend to her husband’s case.
On Tuesday, a young woman was detained and brought to trial after sharing a satirical post on social media comparing Burma Army uniforms to a feminine longyi donned by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Earlier this year, a photographer was similarly arrested for sharing a photo deemed insulting to the military. He was released after three days of interrogation.
Additional reporting contributed by May Sitt Paing.
This article was updated at 2:22 pm on Oct. 15 to add comments from a police official, and edited on Oct. 16 to correct the following: May Sabe Phyu was in Ireland at the time of her husband’s arrest, not in Switzerland as originally reported.