Nationalist Provocateur Faces Defamation Suit Over Potshots at Powerful Trio

By San Yamin Aung 3 May 2016

RANGOON — Nationalist politician Nay Myo Wai has been sued under Burma’s Telecommunications Law for allegedly defaming the country’s president, army chief and state counselor on social media.

Nay Myo Wai is chairman of the Peace and Diversity Party, as well as a supporter of the Buddhist nationalist group Ma Ba Tha whose anti-Muslim invectives are well-known among followers of Burmese politics.

Wai Yan Aung, an executive member of the Burma Teachers’ Federation, filed the lawsuit against Nay Myo Wai, accusing him of defaming President Htin Kyaw, Commander-in-Chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing and State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi.

Tin Maung Soe, a friend of the litigant who accompanied him to the police station in Irrawaddy Division’s Kangyidaunt Township, told The Irrawaddy that the suit was filed Tuesday under Article 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law.

According to Tin Maung Soe, Nay Myo Wai uploaded posts and photos to his Facebook account from April 25 to April 30 that defamed the president, the head of the army and the state counselor.

“His posts frequently try to stir unrest using religion and nationalism,” Tin Maung Soe said. “We will wait to see how the judiciary rules.”

One of the posts in question pictures Suu Kyi as a beggar and another uses photoshop to portray her in a sexist light.

Article 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law stipulates punishment of up to three years’ imprisonment for using a telecommunications network to defame.

“I believe as a good citizen I should do something to stop [Nay Myo Wai] from spreading defamatory posts and photos, which could lead to disintegration of the Union,” Wai Yan Aung told the local publication Mizzima. “We can’t forgive him for that.”

Several cases on charges under the Telecommunications Law rose to prominence during the term of Burma’s previous, military-backed government, including that of Kachin aid worker Patrick Khum Jaa Lee, who was sentenced to six months in prison for a Facebook post that a court deemed defamatory to the Burma Army. Chaw Sandi Tun also received six months for a Facebook post that likewise was found to have insulted the military, while a local Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) official got six months for sharing fake, altered images of the head of Suu Kyi transposed onto the body of a naked woman.