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Htin Linn Oo has right to free speech, says his lawyer

Another court hearing in the trial of well-known writer and former opposition party official Htin Linn Oo, who has been charged on religious grounds for criticising nationalist Buddhist monks, was held at the Chaung-U township court in Sagaing Division on Thursday.

Htin Linn Oo is facing two charges for “insulting religion” and “hurting religious feelings” after he spoke out against the policies of the Association for the Protection of Race and Religion, a nationalistic monkhood organisation commonly known as the Ma-Ba-Tha, during a public literature speech in Chaung-U on 23 October.

He was denied bail after arrest and has remained in custody.

He was also removed from office by his party, the National League for Democracy, as punishment for speaking out.

The court on 2 April heard arguments from defense lawyer Thein Than Oo.


Speaking to DVB after the hearing, Htin Linn Oo’s attorney said, “We centred our argument on points that Ko Htin Linn Oo was citing the Zinattapakathani Buddhist texts by the revered Sayadaw Kyethee Layhtet and Gandayon Sayadaw Zanaka Biwuntha’s Anaggat Tharthana [future Buddhist religion] thesis, as well as the Lord Buddha’s Metta Sutta [philosophy of loving-kindness].

“We also argued that every Burmese citizen has the right to free speech as provided by the Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” he said. “Therefore my client is innocent of the charges against him.”

On 15 January, Htin Linn Oo extended a formal apology to around 30 Buddhist monks in Chaung-U and was forgiven and blessed by the monks.


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