Htin Lin Oo, former information officer of the National League for Democracy (NLD), formally apologised to over thirty monks at a police station in central Burma on Thursday.
The popular author stands accused of religious offense charges*, after allegedly criticising the Association for the Protection of Race and Religion, referred to in Burma as the Ma-Ba-Tha.
He was indicted last month on charges of religious defamation and hurting religious feelings under Article 295(a) and Article 298 of Burma’s penal code. The charges stem from alleged blasphemous remarks made during a public speech he gave in Chaung-U Township, Sagaing Division on 23 October.
The speech was shared extensively online.
Htin Lin Oo’s comments drew the ire of the Ma-Ba-Tha and other local Buddhist monks who initiated pattanikkujana kamma, a form of excommunication, against him.
He was removed from his NLD post as a result.
In the subsequent court proceedings, the prosecution refuted that the lawsuit was politically motivated, insisting that it had nothing to do with his status as an NLD member.
Thein Than Oo, Htin Lin Oo’s defence lawyer confirmed to DVB that his client formally apologised to around 30 monks at Chaung-U police station at the end of his court hearing on 15 January.
“At around 1pm, my client formally apologised to the monks in the Dhamma Hall of the Chaung-U police station, and asked them for forgiveness,” he said.
“As a Buddhist, we are obliged to apologise to the monks – regardless of being in the right or wrong – if they feel hurt by our remarks.”
He said the monks accepted the apology.
Htin Lin Oo has been denied bail twice since he was detained last month.
*Other Burmese media have also reported on the supposedly blasphemous comments.