Voice Editor Released on Bail

By San Yamin Aung 4 August 2017

YANGON — After being detained for two months, The Voice Daily chief editor U Kyaw Min Swe was granted bail by Bahan Township Court in Yangon for 22 million kyats (US$15,400) on Friday.

The chief editor was arrested on June 2 along with the publication’s satirist Ko Kyaw Zwa Naing, also known by his pen name British Ko Ko Maung, for publishing an article which questioned Myanmar’s peace process and armed struggle.

The Myanmar Army filed a lawsuit against the pair, who were charged under controversial Article 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law and then Article 25(b) of the Media Law for allegedly defaming the military in the satirical article. Ko Kyaw Zwa Naing was later released and acquitted of violating Article 66(d) on June 16.

The court accepted the bail request for the chief editor at the court hearing on Friday, with 20 million kyat for the Article 66(d) charge and 2 million kyats for the Media Law charge.

“I have done nothing wrong,” U Kyaw Min Swe told reporters at a press conference held right after his release.

He said journalists—including three detained reporters in Hsipaw Prison, Shan State, who were charged under the colonial era Unlawful Association Act—should only be prosecuted under the Media Law if complaints are made against them, as they are just doing their jobs.

“The media law is not yet effective because even the authorities have not followed the law and just use laws which can put the journalists behind bars right away, as soon as the case is filed. It is unfitting for the democratic transition,” said U Kyaw Min Swe.

“The judge has a fear when it comes to cases which involve the military, whether the army interrupts the case or not. They would take the side [of the army]—the safe side—which has less risk for them. I don’t want to blame them,” he added.