Tanintharyi assembly sues local newspaper over satire

Tanintharyi assembly sues local newspaper over satire

Tanintharyi regional government is suing the Tanintharyi Weekly for publishing a satirical piece and cartoon titled, “Smile for the election campaign”.

The deputy director of the assembly filed a lawsuit on behalf of the regional government, saying that the descriptions used in in the article have “violated the dignity” of the region’s Chief Minister Dr. Lae Lae Maw.

Speaking to DVB today, Tanintharyi Weekly editor-in-chief Myo Aung said he had been summoned to Dawei Myoma police station and questioned. He said he refused to give over the name of the author of the offending article, which was written under the pseudonym Muu Say Ooe.

He said that the lawsuit was filed under Article 25(b) of the 2014 Media Law: for “a writing style that deliberately affects the reputation” of a person or organisation.

“Our media outlet takes sole responsibility for the publication of each article,” said Myo Aung. “As editor-in-chief of Tanintharyi Weekly, it is I who will face any legal proceedings.”

He added: “Satire is a style of writing that uses fictional characters to make humour out of contemporary politics, as well as economic and political issues. One cannot just simply assume that fictional characters refer to a specific individual or organisation.”

Asked for comment, Aung Hla Tun, the vice chairperson of Myanmar Press Council, said, “This should not be happening. If the media outlet had published incorrect information, then that would be a different story.”

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The proceedings against Myo Aung and Tanintharyi Weekly come at a time when Burma’s draconian media laws have been under the spotlight.

Last week, two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, were arrested in northern Yangon, allegedly in possession of sensitive government documents. The pair were charged under the Official Secrets Act and face up to 14 years in prison if convicted.

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