USDP Official in Sagaing Faces Defamation Suit over Rohingya Aid Claims

By Htun Htun 21 September 2018

YANGON—Police in Sagaing Region have filed a defamation lawsuit against the chairman of the Union Solidarity and Development Party’s Shwebo District.

The lawsuit was filed at the Shwebo Township Court under Section 505 (b) of the Penal Code, which prohibits defaming the state.

Shwebo Township management committee chairman U Soe Min Aung instructed township police chief Police Colonel Tar Zan to file the complaint against U Soe Aye over his alleged use of hate speech at a meeting with local residents in Pa Laing village on Sept. 8.

“I have no comment. I was asked by the township management committee to file the lawsuit. I was on leave before that,” the police colonel said.

Police quoted U Soe Aye as saying at the meeting: “Despite the fact that Bengalis [a term used by the majority of people in Myanmar to refer to Rohingya] raped a schoolteacher in Rakhine State, State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has built houses and paved roads and supplied electricity and water utilities to them.

“Sagaing Region Chief Minister Dr. Myint Naing also has to assume responsibility for building around 80 houses [for Rohingya]. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has brought around 4,000 Bengalis [from Rakhine] and allowed them to live in Yangon.

“[Myanmar] will soon become a Bengali country,” he was quoted as saying.

U Moe Kyaw Thu, a National League for Democracy lawmaker in the Sagaing regional parliament, told The Irrawaddy, “If they want to rally support from the public, they can do it honestly. They don’t need to unfairly criticize the other side and defame the government. Such racial instigation is a dirty trick. For our part, we don’t attack others,” the lawmaker said.

The Irrawaddy was not able to reach U Soe Aye, but U Aung Soe Win, an executive of the Shwebo district chapter of the USDP, told The Irrawaddy that the township court had not summoned U Soe Aye yet.

“As the court has not yet summoned us, it is still too early to talk about the case,” U Aung Soe Win said.

“We will help him face trial in line with the law. We have no plan to take action against U Soe Aye,” said USDP spokesperson Dr. Nanda Hla Myint, adding that the party has sufficient evidence to support U Soe Aye’s claim.

“Politicians have a duty to the country to point out the faults of the government,” he said.

Section 505 (b) carries up to two years’ imprisonment without labor and/or a fine.