Myanmar Doctor Arrested for Facebook Rant Against Monks Who Oppose Sex Education

By Zarni Mann 20 May 2020

MANDALAY—A doctor who criticized Buddhist monks on social media for disagreeing with the planned addition of sex education to Myanmar’s high school curriculum has been arrested and faces a possible prison term for allegedly insulting and defaming another’s religion.

The 31-year-old physician, Dr. Kyaw Win Thant, who is himself a Buddhist, wrote on his Facebook account on May 17 that Buddhist monks who are not knowledgeable about sex education are criticizing the new curriculum.

The Myanmar government plans to introduce sex education to the curriculum for the coming academic year, which would normally start in June.

Some nationalist monks have objected to the addition of the subject to the school curriculum, saying teaching sex education in schools is shameful and violates Myanmar tradition.

The issue recently went viral on Facebook, Myanmar’s most popular social media platform, becoming a hotly debated issue among users.

Dr. Kyaw Win Thant said on Facebook that Buddhist monks who complain about the curriculum have no idea what sex education is, adding that they do all the same things that laypeople do, including betting on football matches and watching porn movies.

“They are strong and healthy men who are not working and just living off others’ earnings. I don’t trust any of them—from the most senior to the young novices,” Dr. Kyaw Win Thant said in one of the posts.

According to an official from the Meiktila Township Administration Office in Mandalay Region, an official from the Meiktila District Office of Religious Affairs filed a lawsuit against the doctor under Article 295(a) of the Penal Code, which prohibits insulting a person’s religion. If he is found guilty, the doctor will face two years’ imprisonment, as Article 295 says anyone who insult another’s religion verbally or in writing shall be punished by up to two years’ imprisonment or a fine, or both.

“Meiktila District Religious Affairs official U Ko Ko Aung sent the complaint directly to the Meiktila Township Court today. Police arrested him this morning while he was at the monastery apologizing to the monks,” the Miekhtila Township administration official said.

Dr. Kyaw Win Thant went to Koe Na Win Monastery in Meiktila on Tuesday morning to perform a ritual of apology in accordance with Buddhist tradition.

An angry crowd gathered at the monastery compound, and a number of men tried to hit the doctor and police who were on hand to provide security.

According to witnesses, police escorted the doctor out of the monastery after it became encircled by an angry crowd.

“Police sent him [Dr. Kyaw Win Thant] to Mandalay to be detained for his own security. If he stays in Meiktila, angry people will gather and we are afraid there will be chaos,” said a source at the Meiktila Township Police Station.

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