Myanmar drops anti-Muslim activist defamation charges

Freeing of prominent nationalist leads to accusations of double standards in country troubled by racial, ethnic division

Myanmar drops anti-Muslim activist defamation charges

World Bulletin / News Desk

A prominent anti-Muslim activist has been freed from detention after being previously charged with defamation for posting a provocative statement on Facebook about the Myanmar's military chief and its de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

The ruling -- in which a court dropped all charges Friday against Nay Myo Wai -- has fuelled fears among opponents that Myanmar's courts continue to practice double standards, in a country with growing problems of racial and religious discrimination.

Wunna Shwe -- joint general secretary of the country's Islamic Religious Affairs Council -- expressed his concerns that the court could grant seeming impunity to such a high profile anti-Muslim activist while others charged with similar crimes have been sentenced to jail for at least six months.

“To be honest, it makes us worry,” he said.

Nay Myo Wai -- the chairman of the Yangon-based Peace and Diversity Party -- was arrested in early May 2016 after an activist filed a complaint against him for a post he made that claimed Army Chief Min Aung Hliang had failed to launch a coup against Suu Kyi's ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) after it won last year's election because he wanted to marry the Nobel laureate.

He was charged under the Electronic Transaction Act for defaming both parties -- punishable by up to three years imprisonment, a fine or both. 

However, after two months detention in Prison in Pathein, the capital of the Ayeyawaddy region in Myanmar's west, he was released Friday.

“Pathein Township court dropped all charges against him on the grounds of there being insufficient evidence,” Win Ko Ko Latt of the nationalist Myanmar National Network told Anadolu Agency by phone.

“We nationalists support him for his patriotic spirit and movement,” said the leader of the group, best known for organizing demonstrations against the country's Muslims.

Prior to his arrest, Nay Myo Wai had maintained a high profile at such demonstrations alongside nationalist Buddhist monks, and has frequently associated local Muslims with terrorists. 

In January, he threatened local journalists before demonstrations in Yangon, prior to condemning United Nations' and international media's claims that many people then stranded on a boat at sea were Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state.

In December last year, Chaw Sandi Tun -- a political activist and NLD member – and Kachin peace activist Khun Ja Lee were sentenced to six months in jail for Facebook posts deemed to insult the military chief and other senior army officers.

They were both charged separately under the Electronic Transaction Act. 

Güncelleme Tarihi: 15 Temmuz 2016, 14:45
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