Poet Maung Saung Kha was sentenced on 24 May 2016 to six months in prison for defaming former president Thein Sein in a poem he posted on his Facebook page in October 2015, reported PEN International on 25 May 2016.
The poet was arrested on 5 November 2015, charged for online defamation under the country’s Telecommunications Law, and had been held in custody until the verdict. Saung Kha was released after the recent sentencing for time served.
The law used to arrest and sentence the poet has come into criticism since it was enacted in 2013 for its use to stifle dissent, broadly stipulating that anyone who uses telecommunications networks to “extort, threaten, obstruct, defame, disturb, inappropriately influence or intimidate” can be convicted to a maximum three-year prison sentence, levied a fine, or both.
Several more people have been arrested under the Telecommunications Law. Last year a woman activist was imprisoned for six months for mocking the country’s army chief on Facebook, reported the BBC on 24 May 2016. An NGO worker was also sentenced to six months in prison last year for commenting on a photo of the same army chief, The Guardian reported on 24 May 2016.
Photo from Maung Saung Kha’s Facebook page
» PEN International – 25 May 2016:
Myanmar: Poet sentenced to 6 months in prison and released
» The Guardian – 24 May 2016:
Myanmar court convicts man over penis tattoo poem
» BBC – 24 May 2016:
Myanmar ‘penis tattoo’ poet found guilty of online defamation
» Artsfreedom.org – 23 November 2015:
Myanmar/Burma: Poet arrested for posting ‘defamatory’ poem