No Reprieve for Chaw Sandi Tun in Facebook Defamation Case

By Tin Htet Paing 25 November 2015

RANGOON — The Maubin Township court in Irrawaddy Division rejected an appeal on Tuesday for defamation charges to be dropped against Chaw Sandi Tun, a 25-year-old woman facing trial for sharing a satirical Facebook post deemed insulting to the military.

Chaw Sandi Tun, also known as Chit Thami, was charged under Article 66 (d) of the Telecommunications Law for sharing a photo collage online which compared newly redesigned uniforms worn by Burmese military personnel to the apparel worn by renowned opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

In late October, the accused was notified of an additional charge brought against her under Article 500 of the Penal Code, a defamation clause, in addition to the existing charge.

Article 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law stipulates punishment of up to three years imprisonment while Article 500 of the Penal Code carries a penalty of up to two years jail.

At her fourth court appearance on Tuesday, the defendant’s lawyer Robert San Aung requested that the court throw out the charges as they were not filed by a complainant directly defamed. The appeal was rejected, with the court judging the defamation charge to broadly concern military personnel, not a particular individual, according to Robert San Aung.

The next court hearing is scheduled for Nov. 30.

Chaw Sandi Tun received a Bachelor of Technology from the Maubin Technological University and was a former member of the Maubin Students Union. She took part in the recent student protest movement against the controversial National Education Law and was involved in campaigning for the National League for Democracy until her arrest in October.

Her defamation case is one of several currently before the courts related to content shared on social media. One such case involves aid worker Patrick Khum Jaa Lee who has been jailed—with several requests for bail denied—since October over a Facebook post he disputes sharing.

Translated by Thet Ko Ko.

*Editor’s note: This article was updated to note that Chaw Sandi Tun appeared in court for the fourth time on Tuesday.