Burmese Law Prohibits Free Speech Against Government

In Burma, a country in southeastern Asia between Nepal and Thailand, people are being arrested and charged for speaking out against the unjust treatment by their government, according to the Human Rights Watch international advocacy media outlet.

The National League for Democracy (NLD) member, Myo Yan Naung Thein, was charged on Nov. 18 for making a Facebook comment about the military “failing to defend the country,” as well as calling for the immediate resignation of the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Under Burma’s Telecommunications Law, he will be held in jail for up to three years without bail.

Individuals have been arrested under the same law for having allegedly insulted the NLD leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, President U Htin Kyaw, or the military in general. Simply calling the president an “idiot” or “crazy” landed Aung Win Hlaing in prison for nine months and Ko Hla Phone was sentenced to two-years in prison for digitally altering images of the former president.

In section 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law it states that “extorting, coercing, restraining wrongfully, defaming, disturbing, causing undue influence or threatening any person by using any telecommunications network” is illegal.

These persecutions are being spoken out against by top-tier members of government such as the deputy Asia Director, Phil Robertson, saying, “no one seems safe from prosecution under Burma’s overly broad laws criminalizing free speech, it’s crucial that the NLD, man of whose members spent long years in prison for their political views, act to end these persecutions and amend the law.”

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