Military files defamation suit against The Voice chief editor, satirist

Military files defamation suit against The Voice chief editor, satirist

The Voice Daily’s editor-in-chief and the newspaper’s regular satire columnist are being sued by the military under article 66(d) of Burma’s controversial Telecommunications Law, an electronic defamation clause, over an article published on 26 March.

Kyaw Min Swe, the editor-in-chief, told DVB on Wednesday that he had “received the notice letter of intent to sue today. The case is filed under 66[d].”

He added that he will meet with the Myanmar Press Council and offer further comment on the case after that meeting.

The satirist, whose work for The Voice appears under the pen name British Ko Ko Maung, had contributed a piece of writing that mocked a movie, “Union Oath,” a military propaganda film that aired on the military-owned Myawady TV channel in March to coincide with Armed Forces Day.

Lieutenant Colonel Tun Tun Oo initially filed a complaint over the offending article with the Myanmar Press Council, which is tasked with mediating disputes involving the press.

Last month, the council’s Myint Kyaw told DVB the complaint cited concerns that the article, headlined “Oath of the Nation of Bullets,” might create divisions between the military’s rank-and-file and their superiors.

“The [Rangoon] regional command complained that the article in The Voice Daily could cause divisions between military officials and their subordinates because it implied that the lower-ranking soldiers are the ones who actually have to die in battle while the officials do not really have to fight,” he said.

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The Voice has since issued an apology, saying: “The Voice Daily is deeply sorry that the satire was assumed to harm the dignity of the Tatmadaw [Burma Army].”

The article 66(d) case brought against The Voice this week was filed at the Bahan Township police station in Rangoon. It carries with it a maximum sentence of three years in prison.

Free speech advocates say the Telecommunications Law’s defamation provision should be scrapped, having been used repeatedly, they argue, to stifle criticism of the military, government officials and others.

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