Three Magwe-based Journalists Charged Under Article 66(d)

By May Sitt Paing 16 June 2017

YANGON — Three reporters based in Magwe Township were charged by a village-tract administrator under Article 66(d) of Myanmar’s Telecommunications Act.

U Htay Lwin, administrator of Mel Hla Taung village-tract filed a complaint with Magwe Township No. 2 Police Station against U Tin Shwe, editor-in-charge of local media outlet MGY News and Yatha Sone Journal, and reporters Ma Pu Pwint Nay Chi and Ma Zar Za San of the same outlet.

Police Sub-Lt Zaw Min Oo confirmed the complaint: “We have contacted [the journalists] to make an investigation,” he said.

U Tin Shwe said he wrote a post about brick kilns in a village in Mel Hla Taung village-tract on his Facebook page on May 28, questioning their legality as the Magwe divisional government restricts brick kilns due to environmental concerns.

U Htay Lwin, administrator of Mel Hla Taung village-tract, accused U Tin Shwe of publishing misinformation as he mentioned the wrong village in his Facebook post, according to the police.

He said U Tin Shwe wrongly named the village where brick kilns were found as Myin Kin village, when it in fact was Thinbaw Seik village, damaging the reputation of Myin Kin village.

“I heard that I have been charged, but police have not yet informed me. Ma Zar Zar San was charged because she wrote a comment under my post. But, I don’t know why Ma Pu Pwint Nay Chi was charged,” U Tin Shwe told The Irrawaddy.

Ma Zar Zar San commented under U Tin Shwe’s post that the violation of the ban on brick kilns was “unacceptable.”

Since the enactment of the Telecommunications Act in 2013, there have been around 70 cases filed under Article 66(d)—seven under the previous government and more than 60 under the new government—according to a local research group led by former prisoner Maung Saung Kha, a poet who jailed under the same charge in 2016.