The five - Ko Zeyar Lwin, Ko Paing Phyo Min, Ko Paing Ye Thu, Ma Su Yadana Myint and Kay Khine Tun - were accused by Tatmadaw (military) Lieutenant Colonel Thein Tun Myint of causing public mischief by making fun of the military during their performance at the Thingyan celebration in Mayangone township last week. They were charged under section 505(a) of the penal code.
The accused were briefly detained at Mayangone police station after their performance on April 15 but had been released on bail pending their appearance in court.
‘’We will face everything to fight for freedom of expression. Thangyat is not a crime nor does it cause public mischief. We just made a comment on the Tatmadaw’s and government’s performance using Myanmar traditional culture, thangyat,” said Zeyar Lwin, a senior member of the group.
The five will return to court next week to face a second charge of violating Section 66(d) of the Telecommunications Act, which outlaws “defaming, disturbing, causing undue influence or threatening any person using a telecommunications network.”
The second case stems from their posting a video of their performance on their Facebook page.
Thangyat is a centuries-old Myanmar tradition that often makes fun of ruling powers and social foibles. Its performers sing satirical songs, and recite poems and verses during Thingyan.