Myanmar: Dichter wegen Diffamierung vor Gericht

13. Mai 2016 – Rapid Action 10/16

PEN-Digital-Freedom-logoDer internationale PEN fordert die Behörden von Myanmar dazu auf, alle Anklagepunkte gegen den Dichter Maung Saung Kha, Mitglied des PEN Myanmar, fallenzulassen und ihn umgehend und bedingungslos freizulassen.

Maung Saung Kha wurde am 5. November 2015 inhaftiert. Man wirft ihm vor, sich mit einem Social Media Beitrag der kriminellen Beleidigung strafbar gemacht zu haben (nach Artikel 505 des Strafgesetzbuches und Artikel 66(d) des Telekommunikationsgesetzes). In dem Beitrag hat er suggeriert, dass er sich den Präsidenten auf seinen Penis tätowiert habe. Maung Saung Kha hat nun bereit 6 Monate in Haft verbracht, seine nächste Anhörung soll am 16. Mai 2016 stattfinden.

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Schreiben Sie Protestbriefe:

  • Fordern Sie die unmittelbare und bedingungslose Freilassung von Maung Saung Kha;
  • Rufen Sie die Behörden dazu auf, alle politischen Häftlinge in Myanmar unmittelbar freizulassen und alle Anklagen gegen Personen fallenzulassen, die derzeit lediglich wegen der friedlichen Ausübung ihres Rechts auf freie Meinungsäußerung inhaftiert sind;
  • Fordern Sie, dass alle Gesetze, die das Recht auf Meinungsfreiheit in irgendeiner Weise beschneiden, aufgehoben bzw. an die internationalen Menschrechtsbestimmungen angepasst werden.
  • Drängen Sie die Regierung in Myanmar zur Ratifizierung des internationalen Menschenrechtsabkommens sowie des UN-Zivilpakts.

Schreiben Sie an:

Botschaft der Republik der Union Myanmar
I.E. Frau Yin Yin Myint
Thielallee 19
14195 Berlin
info [at] botschaft-myanmar [dot] de

Hintergrund (bereitgestellt vom international PEN)

On 8 October 2015, 23-year-old Burmese poet, PEN Myanmar member and director of the Poetry Lover Organisation – which aims to promote peace through lyrical literature – Maung Saung Kha, posted a poem entitled ‘Portrait’ (or ‘Image’) on Facebook, a part of which roughly translates to:

‘I have the president’s portrait tattooed on my penis / How disgusted my wife is.’

He immediately went into hiding after he was informed that the President of Myanmar had filed a case against him for criminal defamation under Article 66(d) of Burma’s Telecommunications Law and Article 505 of the Penal Code. The charges relating to Article 505 of the Penal Code were reportedly dropped last month.

Article 66 states that:
whoever commits any of the following acts shall, on conviction, be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, or to a fine or to both.
(d) Extorting, coercing, restraining wrongfully, defaming, disturbing, causing undue influence or threatening to any person by using any Telecommunication Network.

At least three other individuals are known to have been prosecuted under the same provision in November last year; these include a Kachin aid worker and an official for the Union Solidarity and Development Party.

According to reports, the police arrived at Maung Saung Kha’s home in Yangon’s Shwepyithar Township on 8 October 2015; however he had already fled. On 5 November 2015, Maung Saung Kha was arrested at Yangon’s Kamayut Township Courthouse, where he was attending the trial of a friend and fellow activist who faces charges for participating in student demonstrations.

Maung Saung Kha is reported to have said he had no intent to defame President Thein Sein, but that the verse was intended to be ambiguous, aimed at oppressive authority, not any one individual. According to The Irrawaddy, his inspiration came from images widely shared on social media of political party loyalists boasting tattoos of Aung San Suu Kyi. “If people have tattoos of those they love on their chests, I wondered where they might put a tattoo of someone they hate.”

Maung Saung Kha was among the supporters of the White Armband Campaign launched in March 2015 in Yangon and 19 other townships in protest at the government’s violent crackdown on student protestors. The white armbands bear the words, ‘We are Students. Respect Our Rights’. In an interview about the campaign, he stated:

The [government] needs to avoid the violence like this. All citizens have lost trust in the government due to the violence. Only if the government releases the [imprisoned] students and other activists who support the students, will the government gain the trust of the citizens again.

PEN International’s campaigning for freedom of expression in Myanmar

Myanmar has a been a key country for PEN International’s free expression campaigning for over 20 years, when many of the leading figures and founding members of PEN Myanmar such as such as Zarganar, Ma Thida and Nay Phone Latt  were first imprisoned. In July 2013, a PEN International Publishers Circle delegationwent to Myanmar, and met with 20 writers who became the founding member of the PEN Centre. In September 2013, at the 79th International Congress in Reykjavik, Iceland, PEN Myanmar was formally launched, after a half-century of repressive military rule in the country. Blogger Nay Phone Latt’s speech to the Assembly of Delegates tells the story of this journey. PEN Myanmar has openly dedicated itself to strengthening freedom of expression and legal mechanisms in Myanmar, in addition to working on the pragmatic problems of publication and support of emerging writers.

In November 2015, Myanmar held its elections, which saw the National League for Democracy (NLD) come to power. April 2016 saw the release and pardon of some 83 political prisoners, including writer Htin Lin Oo  and five Unity journalists, by the newly elected President Htin Kyaw as part of celebrations of Myanmar New Year. The new government, which is steered by veteran democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi, has vowed to prioritise freeing the scores of political prisoners jailed by the country’s former military leaders. PEN is hopeful that this new government will continue to make great strides in promoting freedom of expression.

For further information on the freedom of expression landscape in Myanmar, please see PEN’s joint submission with PEN Myanmar, PEN American Center, PEN Norway and Myanmar ICT for Development Organisation (MIDO) to the Universal Periodic Review and PEN’s Resolution on the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, adopted by the General Assembly during the 81st World Congress in Quebec City, Canada.