NLD Sues Myanmar Cartoonist for Facebook Post Criticizing Party

By Salai Thant Zin 20 September 2019

PATHEIN, Irrawaddy Region—The ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) has filed a complaint against a cartoonist under Article 66(d) of Myanmar’s Telecommunications Law for allegedly defaming the township electoral committee and the party itself.

The chairman of the NLD’s Maubin Township chapter, U Maung Maung, on Tuesday filed a complaint against cartoonist U Naing Zaw Oo (aka “Ahtee’”) for sharing posts on social media deemed defamatory to the NLD and the township electoral committee, Irrawaddy Region Police spokesperson Police Lieutenant-Colonel Tun Shwe confirmed to The Irrawaddy.

The cartoonist shared a post criticizing what he said were some shortcomings of the NLD branch with the heading, “False image of NLD’s Maubin chapter”. Maubin Township police summoned the cartoonist on Wednesday for questioning, but later released him on bail.

The Irrawaddy called the chairman of the NLD’s Maubin chapter to obtain a comment about the complaint, but he did not answer the phone.

“As one of the elders of Maubin, I just wrote about something I thought was inappropriate. I…pointed it out for the good of the town and the NLD,” the cartoonist told The Irrawaddy.

The Maubin native is known for cartoons criticizing the shortcomings of the executive, legislative and judicial branches. He contributed actively to the NLD’s campaigns in the 2012 by-election and the 2015 general election.

The cartoonist said he would vote for the party in the 2020 general election despite the complaint against him, and encouraged others to do the same.

“I just pointed out the shortcomings of the NLD’s Maubin chapter. I did it for their own good. Despite the complaint, I am soliciting others to vote for the NLD,” he said.

“An urgent meeting of the township executive committee was called [on Sept. 16], but I didn’t attend it, as I was on a trip. So, I don’t know exactly why the complaint has been filed against him,” said U Thet Ko Lay, a lawmaker representing Maubin Township in the Irrawaddy regional parliament.

“But U Ahtee has participated in party campaigns since 2012. And I am sure he contributed to party campaigns in 2015, not only physically, but also with his pen,” he added.

In reaction to the NLD’s lawsuit, many cartoonists took up their pens and shared cartoons on Facebook slamming the party’s treatment of their colleague.

In a separate case, the ruling party filed a complaint against two Facebook users under the Telecommunications Law’s Article 66(d) on Monday over a Facebook page containing memes it alleges are defamatory to Mandalay Region Chief Minister U Zaw Myint Maung.

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