Netizens Call Out Facebook Threats over Article 59(f)

By The Irrawaddy 5 February 2016

RANGOON — Police in Rangoon’s South Okkalapa Township said they are investigating a Facebook user who allegedly wrote a message on the social media platform threatening violence if a clause of the Constitution was suspended to accommodate the presidential ambitions of Aung San Suu Kyi.

“If Article 59(f) is suspended, I’ll just need an AWM [a sniper rifle] or an AS 50 gun and a month of training. I will surely kill. I am serious,” read the post, attributed to a user named Ye Lwin Myint.

Article 59(f) of Burma’s military-drafted Constitution disqualifies anyone with a foreign spouse or children from becoming president, effectively barring Suu Kyi because her two children are British nationals, as was her late husband.

Since December, debate has surfaced over whether the clause could be suspended, paving the way for Suu Kyi to assume the country’s highest office.

The offending Facebook message, posted on Wednesday evening, drew a storm of criticism among Burmese netizens, with many calling for action to be taken against the user, whose threats were seen as directed at the National League for Democracy (NLD) chairwoman.

“We are searching for him,” a police officer in South Okkalapa Township, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Irrawaddy. “But no one has yet come to press charges here.”

Police colonel Win Bo of the Rangoon Division Police Force said on Thursday that action would be taken under the Telecommunications Law against those who make threats or share inappropriate content.

“Though we won’t monitor social media users who write posts on Facebook, if those who are affected by a particular post file a complaint with us, we’ll take action according to the law. We’ll take action if there are complainants,” Win Bo told The Irrawaddy.

Two recent prosecutions under the Telecommunications Law attracted widespread criticism, with rights groups viewing the charges as politically motivated and the punishment excessive.

A Kachin aid worker, Patrick Khum Jaa Lee, was sentenced to six months in prison, minus time served, on Jan. 22 over a Facebook post deemed insulting to the military.

In December, a young supporter of the NLD received a six month sentence for posting an image to Facebook which compared redesigned uniforms worn by Burmese military personnel to the apparel worn by Aung San Suu Kyi.

 May Sitt Paing contributed reporting.