Criminal Law

Filmmaker sent to Prison for Criticizing Military

Date: 18 April 2019; Type: Legal News; Source: Myanmar Times

Film director Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi has been sued by a military official for defaming the Tatmadaw and is currently detained at Yangon’s Insein Prison.

The prominent filmmaker and human rights activist was charged with Article 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law and Penal Code section 505(a) for uploading ten posts which include criticisms of the 2008 Constitution providing the military with 25 percent retention of parliament seats.

Another post on his personal Facebook account states that the Pyin Oo Lwin’s Defense Services Academy (acronym “DSA” refers to Daw Sein Aye in his post) is "giving birth to liars, thieves, and murderers".

Lieutenant Colonel Lin Htun of Yangon Command filed the case under 66(d) on March 29, according to local media.

Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi is the founder of Myanmar’s Human Rights, Human Dignity International Film Festival. The festival, held annually since its inception in 2013, has screened over 120 films and aims to raise public awareness of human rights issue and establish a common ground for film industries and communities to converse about human rights issues.

“I will continue to strongly denounce things that should be criticised for the betterment of the country,” he said. “I will face this lawsuit bravely and righteously according to the law.”

Regarding the charges, a bail was initially offered by Insein township police station, but Insein township court

The human right activist has been diagnosed with liver cancer, and had part of his liver removed three months ago.

He should be granted bail because of his poor health, defence lawyer U Robert San Aung said. If special medicines are not available in the prison, the filmmaker’s life could be at risk.

Article 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law involves punishment of no more than two years in prison. It states that “anyone found guilty of extorting, coercing, restraining wrongfully, defaming, disturbing, causing undue influence or threatening any person by using any telecommunications network shall be punished with a maximum two years in prison, a fine or both.”

Participants in this year’s Myanmar Digital Rights Forum called for the nullification of all sections of the defamation law that are enacted as criminal law, including Article 66(d).

Section 505(a) has a maximum of two years imprisonment. It stipulates that anyone who creates, publishes or circulates any statement, rumour or report with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, members of the army, navy or air force to mutiny or otherwise disregard or fail in his duty.

The next court hearing is scheduled to be held on April 25.

rejected said-bail on April 12 as Section 505(a) is non-bailable.

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