Dressing down: Myanmar activist jailed for ‘ridiculing’ army and uniform
A Myanmar court jailed a woman for six months on Monday for a Facebook post “ridiculing” the country’s army chief and the color of a new uniform, the latest in an escalating crackdown on free speech.
Chaw Sandi Tun, a member of Aung San Suu Kyi’s election-winning National League for Democracy (NLD) party, was found guilty by the Ma-ubin Township Court in Ayeyawady Region, lawyer Robert San Aung told Reuters.
She was sentenced under the telecommunications law, enacted in 2013 as part of an opening up of the telecoms sector.
The act contains a broadly worded clause that prohibits use of the telecoms network to “extort, threaten, obstruct, defame, disturb, inappropriately influence or intimidate”.
Chaw Sandi Tun’s post compared the light green new uniform for army officers with that of a “longyi”, a traditional Myanmar skirt worn by Suu Kyi.
She was arrested in October. The same month, Patrick Kum Jaa Lee, an NGO worker, was arrested for a Facebook post that mocked the army.
He faces up to three years in prison if found guilty.
Critics say the arrests are part of a wider crackdown on social media posts deemed offensive to the military and government.
Myanmar has been ruled by a quasi-civilian government since 2011 following five decades of military rule and has been widely praised for ushering in a series of economic and political reforms.
But in recent months critics have accused the military and government of returning to junta-era tactics, amid arrests over social media posts and a violent police crackdown on a student protest earlier this year which left scores wounded.