Woman Faces Additional Charge in Facebook Defamation Trial

By Salai Thant Zin 29 October 2015

A young woman brought to trial in Irrawaddy Division after sharing a satirical post online deemed insulting to the military faces an additional defamation charge, the woman’s mother told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday.

Chaw Sandi Tun appeared in Maubin Township Court on Tuesday where she was notified of an additional charge being brought against her under Article 500 of the Penal Code, a defamation clause, in addition to an existing charge under Article 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law.

Prosecutors have reportedly dropped the original charge filed under Article 34(d) of Burma’s Electronic Transactions Law.

Twenty-five-year-old Chaw Sandi Tun, also known as Chit Thami, is charged in relation to a photo collage shared online of Aung San Suu Kyi wearing a green traditional htamein, a female longyi, alongside Commander-in-Chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing and other military service personnel in newly redesigned uniforms.

The post compared the new military garb to the apparel of the renowned opposition leader, who chairs the National League for Democracy (NLD) and once served nearly two decades of house arrest under the former military junta.

“Today, she was charged under Article 500 of [Burma’s Penal Code] for defamation against the commander-in-chief,” Daw Ei San, the mother of the accused, told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday.

“Initially, they filed a suit against my daughter under Article 34(d) of the Electronic Transactions Law, that then changed to Article 66(d) [of the Telecommunications Law].”

At least three other people are currently facing defamation charges under Article 66(d) for content shared to social media site Facebook.

Patrick Khum Jaa Lee, the husband of renowned Kachin peace activist May Sabe Phyu, was arrested earlier this month over a Facebook post deemed to defame the Burma Army. He remains in custody after his second court hearing was deferred on Tuesday.

Another incident involves a member of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) accused of defaming opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

A third case was filed against a 23-year-old activist who shared a poem that suggested he had a tattoo of the president on his penis.