Charge dropped for online satirist

Charge dropped for online satirist

A Rangoon judge has dropped one of two defamation charges levelled against a woman arrested over a social media post in October.

Chaw Sandi Htun was facing one charge under article 500 of the Penal Code, and another under article 66 (d) of the Telecommunications Law for a Facebook post that likened the colour of the Burmese military’s uniform to Aung San Suu Kyi’s htamein.

She was detained on 12 October, when local police arrived at a meditation centre she was attending with her mother. Today’s hearing in Maubin Township was her eighth appearance before the court since the charges were brought against her.

The post in question was allegedly captioned: “Why not wear pieces of her htamein as bandanas if you love her so much?” alongside a photo of the National League for Democracy leader delivering a speech beside another photo of Commander-in-Chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing addressing the military.

According to her lawyer, Chaw Sandi Htun denies sharing the Facebook post.

Speaking to DVB, her lawyer Robert San Aung said: “The Maubin Township Court’s judge Daw Hla Myat Mon decided to dismiss the charge under the Penal Code, as it is essentially the same as the other charge.

“Regarding the Telecommunications Law charge, when Chaw Sandi Htun was asked to explain the post, she stated that she was only aware of the Facebook post in question after she was detained by the police. She didn’t know about it,” he said, adding that she will fight the outstanding charge.

The Telecommunications Law carries a maximum punishment of three years imprisonment for those convicted under it. Chaw Sandi Htun’s next hearing is set for 21 December, where the court is expected to hear from the defence.

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Hers is one of several social media-related cases currently before the courts, as police seemed to crackdown on online behaviour in the lead-up to the 8 November election. Patrick Kum Jaa Lee, husband of renowned activist May Sabe Phyu, was also arrested for posting an image depicting Commander-in-Chief Snr-Gen. Min Aung Hlaing being stepped on.

His defence team called for Patrick Kum Jaa Lee to be granted bail, citing his deteriorating health, but were denied by the court. He remains in jail.

Read more about the Chaw Sandi Htun case here.

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