Pegu Woman Charged With Defaming State Counselor on Social Media

By Htun Htun 1 December 2016

RANGOON — Pegu Division police have arrested a woman charged with defamation under Article 66 (d) of Burma’s Telecommunications Law for sharing online posts deemed to be insulting to State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

Ma Sandi Myint Aung was taken into police custody on Tuesday evening and remanded on Wednesday. Her court hearing is set for Dec. 7.

Ma Lin Lei Lei Hlaing, a Pegu local, filed a complaint against Ma Sandi Myint Aung, a staunch supporter of the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), on Oct. 28 for sharing posts that were said to include foul language against Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who leads the National League for Democracy government.

The Irrawaddy tracked her posts, but it appeared that many had been removed, including any that could be deemed insulting to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. But according to several screen shots of social media posts shared by netizens, Ma Sandi Myint Aung has criticized Daw Aung San Suu Kyi satirically and is also vocal in her support for the Burma Army.

A Facebook post which was shared on September 25 called Daw Aung San Suu Kyi an “old lady” and satirically wished for her death as the State Counselor appeared unwell after a trip to the US and EU earlier that month.  The Irrawaddy could not independently verify if those posts were shared by Ma Sandi Myint Aung herself.

After receiving the complaint, police sent the evidence to Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to check Ma Sandi Myint Aung’s Facebook account, according to inspector U Than Tun of Pegu’s township police force.

“CID replied that the photos and account match. And the court said she should be sued. So, we arrested her,” he told The Irrawaddy.

Ma Sandi Myint Aung is a first year geography student at Pegu University.

According to a telecommunications research team working on the case of Maung Saungkha, a writer and activist in Rangoon, there have been 40 lawsuit cases filed under Article 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law as of Wednesday, under the new government. Individuals in three of those cases have been sentenced, while 13 have been detained, Maung Saungkha posted on his Facebook page.

The team said there were seven such cases under former President U Thein Sein’s term and five received sentencing.

Maung Saungkha was among those sentenced to prison under the defamation law during former President U Thein Sein’s term.

He was sentenced to six months in prison for defaming U Thein Sein after posting a poem on his Facebook account saying that the president’s image was tattooed on his penis.