A senior official of the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party appeared in court on Friday facing charges of violating the Telecommunications Law after posting comments on social media critical of the armed forces’ defense of Burma’s border with Bangladesh.
The charges against Myo Yan Naung Thein, the secretary of the NLD’s Central Research Management Team, appear to stem from his criticism of Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing in a Facebook post written on 14 October.
In the post, written five days after a series of attacks on border guard posts in northern Arakan State left nine border guard police dead, Myo Yan Naung Thein blasted the military chief for refusing to resign “despite the fact that most responsibility lies with him”.
Using an offensive term for people of South Asian origin, he also belittled the military for not being able to defend the country against an “invasion by bad kalars“, even though the attackers were armed only with swords.
Nay Moe Aung, the NLD official’s aide, said he was taken into custody by police on Thursday afternoon and faces charges under Article 66(d) of the 2013 Telecommunications Law, which prohibits any form of online harassment.
A formal complaint was filed by Lieutenant-Colonel Lin Tun of the Rangoon Regional Military Command. If found guilty, Myo Yan Naung Thein faces a fine or up to three years in prison.
Speaking to DVB on Friday, Nay Moe Aung said that Myo Yan Naung Thein was remanded in custody pending a hearing next week.
“He was given a one-week remand at the Hlaing Township court today and will have a hearing on 9 November,” the aide said.
At the courthouse, Myo Yan Naung Thein asserted his right as a citizen of Burma to criticise the military, according to Nay Moe Aung.