Myanmar Doctor Jailed for Online Criticism of Monks Who Oppose Sex Education

By Zarni Mann 3 June 2020

MANDALAY – The court in Mandalay’s Chanayetharzan Township on Tuesday sentenced a doctor who criticized Buddhist monks over their objections to the teaching of sex education in schools to one year and nine months in prison.

Dr. Kyaw Win Thant, 31, was arrested on May 19 at the Koe Na Win Monastery in Meiktila as he performed a formal Buddhist apology ritual and a case was opened against him for insulting and defaming another’s religion.

Mandalay district religious affairs officer U Tin Maung Aye filed the lawsuit under sections 294(b) and 295(a) of the Myanmar Penal Code for insulting, defaming and hurting another’s religion.

“The court heard testimony from the plaintiff and five witnesses for the prosecution, and Kyaw Win Thant admitted that he posted the criticism on Facebook, so the court found him guilty and sentenced him to one year and nine months in prison,” said U Kyaw Myo Win, a spokesperson for Chanayetharzan Township Court.

According to the court, Dr. Kyaw Win Thant was sentenced to three months for violating section 294(b), and one year and six months for violating section 295(a).

Those convicted under section 294(b) face a maximum of three months in prison, and section 295(a) carries a maximum sentence of two years.

Dr. Kyaw Win Thant criticized the Buddhist monks on social media for objecting to the planned introduction of a new sex education curriculum in Myanmar high schools, saying the monks who oppose sex education know nothing about it.

The government plans to introduce the course in the coming academic year.

Some nationalists and Buddhist monks have widely criticized the sex education curriculum on social media, saying it is inappropriate in the context of Burmese culture.

In his posts, the doctor claimed that some Buddhist monks do everything that ordinary people do, including secretly watching porn movies, while at the same time criticizing sex education, and questioned their right to get involved in matters of health and education.

After his Facebook posts, which mainly targeted Buddhist monks living in Meiktila, went viral, Dr. Kyaw Win Thant went to Koe Na Win Monastery in the township on May 19 to apologize. A crowd gathered at the monastery compound, and a number of angry men tried to hit the doctor and police who were providing security. Later the police escorted him out of the monastery and took him to Oh-bo Prison in Mandalay.

After the court session on Tuesday, Dr. Kyaw Win Thant was sent back to Oh-bo Prison to serve his sentence.

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