PATHEIN, Irrawaddy Division — A Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) official was sentenced to six months in prison with hard labor for sharing fake, altered images of the head of pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi transposed onto the body of a naked woman.
After a four-month trial in Irrawaddy Division’s Kangyidaunt Township, the local court pronounced the joint secretary of the township USDP office, Than Tun, guilty under Article 66(d) of Burma’s Telecommunications Law on Monday, after he shared the doctored photo of the pro-democracy leader, accompanied by vulgar text, online.
“What else can I do?” Than Tun asked The Irrawaddy following the verdict. “It is the court’s decision. I have not decided whether to appeal or not yet.”
Shared by Facebook user “Thu Thu” on Sept. 2, the image quickly stirred up controversy. Sithu Aung, a volunteer with the Hand to Hand Free Education Network, filed the lawsuit against Than Tun in October, alleging that he was the owner of the account.
“I am satisfied with the punishment. I think justice is served,” said Sithu Aung, the plaintiff.
Monday’s verdict is just the latest in a number of punishments handed out during outgoing President Thein Sein’s administration under the Telecommunications Law.
In December, National League for Democracy (NLD) supporter Chaw Sandi Tun was sentenced to six months in jail for sharing a photo on Facebook that likened newly redesigned Burma Army uniforms to apparel worn by Suu Kyi.
Kachin aid worker Patrick Khum Jaa Lee was also given a six-month sentence in January for allegedly sharing a photo of a man dressed in traditional Kachin attire stomping on Burma Army chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing.
The Telecommunications Law carries penalties of up to three years in prison for using a telecommunications network to extort, threaten, obstruct, defame, disturb, inappropriately influence or intimidate.