YANGON/MANDALAY — A court in Minkin Township, Sagaing Region, on Monday sentenced a nationalist writer to the maximum two years in prison for incitement over a speech he made there in March, according to the plaintiff’s lawyer.
Maung Thway Chuun, also known as U Myin Soe, had been on trial since June under Article 505 (c) of the Penal Code, which covers the incitement of conflict between ethnic or religious groups. He was sued by U Naing Naing Zaw, a local government administrator.
“The court said he was found guilty for making a speech that could stir up conflict between the different communities and that he was sentenced to two years,” said U Pyae Sone Aung, the official’s lawyer.
In his speech, Maung Thway Chuun said Myanmar was once again at risk of being colonized and that the country’s race, religion and identity were in danger of disappearing.
He also said that the current speakers of the Upper House and Lower House of Parliament were Christian, that Buddhists had no chance of gaining senior legislative positions, and that laws protecting race and religions in Myanmar would soon be repealed.
Maung Thway Chuun reportedly tried to form a political party, the Nationalist Union Party, with members of the outlawed Association to Protect Race and Religions, a nationalist group better known by its Myanmar acronym Ma Ba Tha. The Union Election Commission rejected its application in November.
Ashin Agga Dazza, a prominent nationalist monk from Mandalay Region who attending the court’s announcement, said the sentence was too harsh.
“The penalty is too much because it is the maximum penalty stated in Article 505 (c). We believe the government is intentionally persecuting nationalists and we are saddened by this,” he said.
Translated from Burmese and additional reporting by Zarni Mann.